For their fifth album Premonition, Vancouver band White Lung build on the tight songwriting and high-quality production that has been a hallmark of the band since at least 2016’s Paradise (an album I reviewed for Tom Tom Mag, noting “Listen to this while trying to put your eyeliner on straight on the train en route to a punk show.”) 2022 finds the band as an even more perfect version of themselves. Their punk-hardcore-rock sound is as punchy as ever, with loud guitars, thrashing drums and Mish Barber-Way’s melodic yell tempting listeners to put the pedal down and head straight to the mosh pit.
Premonition has been in the works since 2017, although in the meantime Barber-Way has had two children and the band (along with the rest of us) dealt with several years of upheavals. White Lung have obviously used this time to hone themselves into an even sharper unit, and the band hasn’t settled down— this album is just as fast-paced and fist-pumping as anything they’ve done. Drummer Anne-Marie Vassiliou is on absolute fire on this record (she’s always had a great snare sound in particular). Kenneth William provides the guitars, bass, and synth; although the basslines are great, a driving mass pushing the songs along, it’s the guitars that grab my attention, from the first hyperactive chords of “Hysteric” all the way to the vicious churn and high-note flourishes of “Winter.”
Premonition (art by Justin Gradin)
Barber-Way is indeed a parent now, and doesn’t shy away from her motherhood but doesn’t make a saccharine ploy of it. Lyrics on songs like “Bird” don’t try to make everything perfect. “Count all your little limbs and then I’ll binge / While my brain breaks down / Stolen in part by you, what can I do? / As I wait for sound.” The single “If You’re Gone” is about children dealing with the loss of a parent who took their own life. Thoughts of aging and love are here as well, in “Mountain:” Will you say you adore me when I’m beat and almost forty? / When I’ve given all my body up for you? / Will you still cut the trees down? / Will you come to my hometown with our litter wrapped up in your arms? Another highlight on the album is “Date Night,” a tale of burning your bridges after a date night with God himself (imagined as a smoker in a Cadillac.)
If you’ve read this far and are excited to hear the album, I must bear the sad news that Premonition is White Lung’s swansong: “the last album we’ll be getting from one of the best bands to ever do it.” Pick up the album out now on Domino Records and toast White Lung as they ride into the sunset.