Sunday, 19 January 2014

Album Review: Warpaint - Warpaint

It's been 5 years since LA bliss rockers Warpaint graced us with their masterpiece of an EP Exquisite Corpse and 4 since their excellent debut album The Fool. I was apprehensive when they announced they were working on a new album, I wondered how they could possibly match their last effort, it was practically perfect.  However, these concerns were eradicated when they dropped 'Love Is To Die' late last year, it's haunting vocals and flawless production reminded me exactly why this quartet is so special.

In the context of the album, 'Love Is To die' still sticks out, it's key changes still hit as hard and I still cannot resist tapping along to the drum beat. Prior to this track is 'Keep It Healthy', which sounds exactly as it did when they performed it in session with Steve Lemacq on Radio 6 recently, accept the guitar line on which it is based on is a lot more prominent. At this point I wondered what exactly they meant when they said that this album was inspired by Hip-Hop and R'n'B sounds, but as soon as the beat kicked in on track 4 'Hi', it became very clear what their influences were. The distinctly Hip-Hop beat is created by the bands ever immense rhythm section (Stella Mozgawa's stellar drumming and Jenny lee Lindberg's bass) which gels surprisingly well with Theresa Wayman and Emily Kokal's sultry vocals.

The album calms down a bit on 'Biggy' which was released a buzz track earlier this year, and now that I've heard the other tracks on Warpaint this seems like quite a bazaar choice considering the calibre of the other songs of this record. 'Biggy' isn't bad per se, it's just tame and would've worked better if it was a bit faster (funnily enough they revealed this track was originally "6 times faster" in a recent interview with The Guardian). For the most part 'Teese' is also fairly tame but does perk up around the middle with thriving synths and off-kilter glitches before hushing once again into a fade-out.

Things really get weird on standout track  'Disco//Very' which, like Haim's 'My Song 5' is a complete curve ball. There has been a lot of buzz around this track and it has definitely delivered. On this track the band truly live up to their name, the menacing opening lyric "I've got a friend in a melody, that will kill..." mixed with it's stomping bass line, playful vocals (complete with a cheeky growl or two) and a spot of cowbell make it Warpaint's most audacious song yet.Things settle down once again on 'Go In' before 'Feeling Alright' bursts out and oozes seduction, like 'Love Is To Die' it rises, falls and glitches. The throbbing post-dub recalling beat which kicks in mid-song is one the album's many highlights. The girls give synths a rest on 'CC' which favours their earlier instrumentation with a heavy base-laden melody layered with soaring harmonies, the repetition of "you've got me so sick/spinning, dizzy" and the intoxicating instrumentation creates a spinning sensation in my head to the extent where I actually feel a little bit woozy...

'Drive', like it's name suggests, (as cheesy as it sounds) makes me feel as if I'm driving into the sunset on an open road on summers day, especially with the repetition of "Into the storm, into the eye". The song builds into a glorious climax with unified cries from the band. Closing track 'Son' is fragile and stripped back at first; It showcases Wayman's gentle vocals before building on a rolling drum beat and easing into a majestic end. Fitting for such an elegant album.

Although it isn't too much of a departure from their previous album material, Warpaint is a fresh and enriching listen which goes one further than their debut. 


Key Tracks: 'Keep It Healthy', 'Hi,', 'Disco//Very', 'Feeling Alright', 'Son'

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