The Pacific Northwest has never wanted for progressive, outside-the-box punk bands, from the Wipers to Unwound, not to mention dozens of Hall-of-Fame-worthy riot grrrl bands. Yet this many decades down the line, it’s still comforting to hear that there are still bands making noise as deafening and scalpel precise as their predecessors. Vancouver’s White Lung keeps that Pac NW punk rock fire burning, as much through outstanding songwriting as they do through unbridled energy, and sophomore album Sorry is bursting at the seams with both.
There’s a lot going on in Sorry‘s ten tracks — anger, blazing guitar riffs, furious rhythms, feminism, confrontation, hooks galore — and the band consumes only 19 minutes to pack it all in. White Lung’s is a ruthless efficiency, to borrow a phrase from Monty Python’s Flying Circus, though that’s not a quality to be confused with being overly sparse or unfinished. Sorry is astonishing in just how complete it feels, which is aided in part by a force of energy that remains an exhausting constant. On “Take the Mirror,” Kenneth Williams’ deft but ferocious guitar work makes an adequate tidal wave for frontwoman Mish Way to ride with venom of her own: “Wipe that look from your face/ I’ll drop you back from where you came.” “St. Dad” careens, “Bag” shimmies at maximum speed, and “The Bad Way” slams. But if there’s a defining moment of the whole album, it’s the throat-ripping hardcore of “Thick Lip,” a bilious assault on manufactured gender ideals that begins with “We don’t have real heads/Instead we got legs” and eventually leads to, “Your thick dumb lips/Tell a real dumb truth.” Ouch.
By now, any question about whether or not punk is dead should have been well settled with a resounding “NO!” With White Lung, however, it feels more alive than ever. Their combination of jagged shards of guitar, a brutally confrontational style and a keen knack for melody make them a vital and unstoppable force.
Stream: White Lung – “Take The Mirror”
Jeff Terich is the founder and editor of Treble. He's been writing about music for 20 years and has been published at American Songwriter, Bandcamp Daily, Reverb, Spin, Stereogum, uDiscoverMusic, VinylMePlease and some others that he's forgetting right now. He's still not tired of it.