Canadian noise-punks White Lung have crawled their way towards the top of that country’s punk rock scene and garnered some lavish stateside praise. For their 2012 LP Sorry, the band burned through ten harrowing hardcore songs in just 19 minutes. On Deep Fantasy, White Lung haven’t exactly diminished their intensity, but they have expanded their songcraft somewhat, stretching these ten songs to a full 23 minutes.
They’ve also added what might be considered in punk circles as hooks and some relatively catchy verses. White Lung aren’t to be confused with Green Day, however. The opening strains of first track “Down with the Monster” are a dead ringer for a Sonic Youth song, although they quickly give way to a churning punk rock mesh. Vocalist Mish Way’s near-shrieking sounds most like Suzy Gardner, frontwoman for 90s all-female metallic punkers L7. In fact, White Lung’s sound seems largely indebted to 80s and 90s female-led outfits like L7 and Hole, and Way has gone so far as to pen a panegyric to Hole frontwoman Courtney Love for online music mag noisey.
It’s safe to say that the band’s sound has its roots in 80s and 90s punk/alternative rock, though, they have a sound all their own. Interestingly, Way provided a list of influences for the album to webiste stereogum; the tracks she pointed to included a diverse set of artists, from neo-satanic proto-thrashers Venom to Oasis and the Mamas and the Papas. Regardless where their sound derives from, the results are noisy yet exacting guitar textures and hardcore urgency coloring a set of focused songs.
Considering their predominantly female lineup - guitarist Kenneth William is the only male within their ranks - and their vaguely feminist leanings, it’s tempting to lump them in with that label, but tagging them a feminist band would be overly-reductive..
Lyricist Way’s politics are inherently personal. As she told SPIN.com recently, "Everything in this world is about [power], whether it's just a simple thing like losing love from someone to losing everything you own.. Everything is about trying to find out your own personal power and where you stand." The thing about Way’s lyrics, though, is that they are relatively cryptic and open to interpretation by the listener. Example - “My eyes have no mind/I'm all mute and spent/I ate your infection/but I'll never pay your rent” from “Lucky One.” One gets the gist of what she’s saying without necessarily being able to pin down an exact meaning.
What’s remarkable about Deep Fantasy is how White Lung can maintain their level of intensity and inventiveness through another spiky set of churning and intricately layered songs.
A previous version of this article appeared in whatzup.