The move to 'major indie’ Domino has not stripped White Lung of their ferocious sound. Their punk credentials very much intact, third record Deep Fantasy sees the band continue their staunch, relentless campaign of sheer noise, and does so without any apology or compromise. Clocking in at 27 minutes, it's as direct a record as you are likely to hear this year.
Taking an almost metal-like approach to their brand of shit-kicking punk rock, the record soars high and fast, as uplifting in its drive as it is faintly disturbing in its intensity of musicianship and subject matter. Like many of the contemporaries in their native Canada - Fucked Up, Ought etc - White Lung’s ethos and music hearken back to DIY punk scenes that flourish through their politics, drive, disdain and distrust. With as much in common with DC Hardcore as New York No-Wave, Deep Fantasy is punk rarely seen outside of the regional underground; what has been unearthed here is of staggering vitality.
This world-weary White Lung is nothing new. As on previous records It’s The Evil and Sorry , singer Mish Way - known elsewhere as a scribe for Vice Magazine and others - tackles issues with an informed, righteous anger; a new found clarity in lyricism (lyrics Way has herself claimed to have spent more time on as opposed to the ‘on the spot’ writing on previous records) bolstered by the unwavering guitar and drum work by Anne-Marie Vassiliou and Kenneth William. As such, Deep Fantasy, through this determined, solid anger and almost maniacal focus, is the band’s strongest record to date.
‘Drown with the Monster’ is as bold an opening statement as they come. With lyrics tackling ‘drowning’ in substance abuse (the ‘monster’ of the track), the guitars screech and pummel along with an intensity appropriate and necessary to do the subject justice; Kenneth William’s terrifying guitar screeches at the song’s opening and closing points indicative of the fact that this struggle may be an ongoing one. Elsewhere, ‘Face Down’ is a comparatively slow track that contemplates how the loudest often say the least, with Way also poignantly reflecting how she herself “sinks to the belly of the weak”. However, such self-deprecating and soul-searching has rarely been approached in such a forthright fashion; the track may be comparatively slow and reflective, but it could still kick the shit out of the vast majority of stuff out there.
It is not often that you hear such frankness in tandem with such brevity, and it is this that makes Deep Fantasy such a spectacular record. There is no slack, no flab and nothing that even comes close to pretension; the sharp sound and honesty come totally naturally. There is a legitimate, authentic punk spirit that permeates every aspect of this record, and it is all the better for it. Mesmerizing.
8Jon Clark's Score