White Lung = Pretty Girls Make Graves + Helen Hill with Violators + The Avengers + Complete Control
Where much new punk music is conflated with hardcore, stoner metal, indie, folk or pop-punk, White Lung have managed to pick up where mid-aughts bands left off, to push a straight-up punk sound into a different realm without interlacing their tunes with conventions from other genres on their sophomore release, Sorry. Opener “Take the Mirror” exhibits frontwoman Mish Way’s robust sing-yelling style that often flourishes into aggressively feminine vocal soaring. Three tracks into Sorry, guitarist Kenneth William’s melodic guitar lines and Way’s screams in “Thick Lip” demonstrate that White Lung aren’t just a batch of good-looking hipsters, but have some well honed aggression to deliver. With nary a track over 2:15, White Lung proffer a sense of progressive song structures, as with “I Rot,” where Grady Mackintosh’s driving, clear-cut bass lines function as an anchor for William’s evanescent, high-on-the neck guitar work. “The Bad Way” awakens my street punk proclivities as a reviewer, as William’s single-line hooks and the all-girl gang vocals atop Anne-Marie Vassilou’s spot-on D-beat lend the piece a catchy character amid its bellicosity. And, boy, do I love “Glue.” William’s contrast between choppy finger-muting and harmonics that lapse into tonal chaos underpin the tension that Way creates with the pre-chorus: “One day you’ll see/That her fat head will eat me.” Vassilou bolsters the chorus with frequent strikes to her crash cymbals as William provides apt counterpoint to Way’s melody, which carries the full-bodied declaration, “You’re a dead horse riding/But I’m out for you/Fill my pistol pocket/Melt her down to glue.” With oblique language throughout the album, Way’s lyrics stand on their own with odd, dark imagery and accounts of interpersonal struggles. Minimal in its time-span yet hearty in its content, Way’s moody cadences and the instruments’ surefooted excursions into iridescent melodies cradled by solid rhythms render Sorry as veritably “post-,” a much-needed punk Shavasana.