With the release of their first three full-length albums, Vancouver, BC-based trio White Lung — comprised of Mish Barber-Way (vocals), Kenneth William (guitar) and Anne-Marie Vassilou (drums) — have seen a growing profile across the blogosphere for a raw, scuzzy and primal sound that was both relentless and punishing in a fashion that compared favorably to the likes of Screaming Females and others. However, when the trio went into the studio to record the material that would comprise their upcoming fourth full-length effort Paradise, slated for a May 6 release through Domino Recording Company, with producer Lars Stalfors (known for his work with HEALTH, Cold War Kids, and Alice Glass), the members of White Lung had decided that changing their songwriting and recording approach was absolutely critical. Not only did the band want to make a record that sounded incredibly contemporary and with an pop-leaning sensibility, they wanted to show that they had progressed as songwriters, musicians and artists. Interestingly, such thinking actually defies some age-old thinking in punk — that somehow personal and artistic growth as an artist is somehow the worst possible thing, akin to cheaply selling your soul.
Paradise‘s first single “Hungry” is a not just a refinement of the sound that has won the Canadian trio attention across the blogosphere, it’s a thorough modernization of their sound — they retain the huge power chords and blazing guitar work; however, the guitars are fed through copious layers of reverb, which interestingly enough quickly pushes their sound from punk to New Wave and pop. Of course, additionally there’s a noticeable emphasis on both melody and harmony on the vocals, as well as sharper, crisper and anthemic hooks, while lyrically the song focuses on a larger cultural phenomenon: how greater self obsession and public attention and scrutiny can create delusion and isolation, despite the fact that we’re generally social creatures, who crave attention and affection from others.
Co-written by Barber-Way and director Justin Gradin, the recently released video stars Amber Tamblyn, who’s appeared in The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, The Ring, 127 Hours and House as a “self-obsseed girl, who is barely famous as the model on a brand of canned condensed milk, as she struggles to seem important, while being hunted by the ghosts of fame — until her eventually epiphany of disposability,” as Gradin explained in press notes. It gives the video a surreal and nightmarish feel while suggesting that the tether that holds us to reality can snap at any time.