White Lung, Deep Fantasy

Kerri O'Malley

White Lung, Deep Fantasy [Domino]

On their third LP, Deep Fantasy, White Lung scream about what some people won’t even whisper about. Mish Way and her bandmates construct a tightly wound atmosphere of skull-stamping anger and frustration, building to a release earned not from escaping but instead confronting tough realities with honesty and strength. Deep Fantasy is tough, loud, melodic, energetic, and absolutely inspiring in its loose-lipped fearlessness.

While the totally awesome birthed from guitarist Kenny William’s furious strumming and drummer Anne-Marie Vassiliou’s relentless smashing cannot be denied, so much of White Lung seems to flow from the verbose and prolific Mish Way. Way has admitted (as is characteristic of the outspoken bandleader—I’d love to watch her run some kind of “Mish Admits” talk show) that many people find her intimidating. However, Mish’s intimidating core of power doesn’t come from some kind of aloof impenetrability. Instead, it’s her ability to bare herself, to be confidently raw that makes her so awe- inspiring.

Mish seems hyper-conscious, very tuned in to not only herself but the fucked up shit in the world around her, and driven to connect her observations directly to us through her chosen medium, be it her writing or her songs. On Deep Fantasy, she really hits her stride, cutting through some very thick shit.

“Down It Goes” takes me back to that moment where my mom taught me how to casually cover the opening of my beer with my thumb to avoid the poison rerferenced in the song’s lyrics and, ultimately, being raped. Way sings about that pervasive, very purposeful paranoia that’s almost never talked about outside of woman-to-woman conversations. By sharing that fear, that back-of-the-mind thought, in the context of exploration instead of outright blame, White Lung and Mish demonstrate that they are a truly revolutionary culture force. Not just a remix of riot grrrl, Way is seeking to move beyond that very specific scene-based feminist aggression to a larger discussion about our current culture’s ingrained attitudes about and problems with sex—encountering and confronting those assumptions in even in the most everyday, fucking normal situations like sipping on a beer.

“I Believe You” more directly tackles rape culture through the lens of Cheri Currie’s autobiography, which describes how Currie was kidnapped and raped. Way sings, “You don’t take me, you don’t make me” and the most important answer to stories of sexual abuse and rape: “I BELIEVE YOU.” Dealing with addiction, body image, all the confusing closeness of danger and allure is the stuff of White Lung’s Deep Fantasy. “For me, songwriting has always been about being able to work through things that I can’t conquer logically on my own,” Way told Rookie. Deep Fantasy conquers the illogical, the terrifying, the chaos of Way’s and our own interior. It attempts to press and push on what’s hard to process, and listening to White Lung push and work around these insanely worthwhile topics is enough to start your own wheels turning, your own blood rising, your own conversations.

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