Monday, 17 October 2016

Warpaint - Heads Up review

It’s no secret that Warpaint are one of my favourite bands of all time, and I’m flakey as hell when it comes to bands, so that says A LOT. Unlike with many bands, I was hooked from the very start; their debut EP Exquisite Corpse blew me away (especially the track Elephant<3), The Fool is one of my favourite albums ever released and their self-titled LP was my album of 2014 and soundtracked my entire year, and helped make that year remarkably less shitty. 'I’ll Stop Believing', which turned out to be a mere ~bridge single~ between album cycles, was one of the band's best songs yet, so naturally my excitement levels for their third record were immense. Thankfully, the girls have come through with yet another smart, intricate and bold release to add to my collection in the form of Heads Up.

The lead single ‘New Song’ was perhaps the most divisive track they’ve released thus far, but that’s exactly what artistic growth is about – when they were fairly ~underground~, they appeased their small fanbase with a very niche and distinct style, but as they progress and attract a larger crowd, naturally they’re gonna alienate the more uptight and rigid listeners. I, as a long-term Warpaint fan as well as a fan of pop music in general, happen to adore this radio-friendly sound they’re toying with. The repetition of the hook creates a hypnotic effect, which along with the light and breezy production makes it possibly their catchiest song to date. 

The staggering thing to me about Heads Up is the number of tracks that strike me as ‘instant classics’ at first listen, which three albums in is highly exciting. Maintaining their track record for strong opening tracks, ‘By Your Side’ is Warpaint at their most menacing and for that I adore it; they are experimenting with tension like never before. The line ‘But I won’t give up on you’ from ‘The Stall’ is a refrain that sticks with me for hours after; with the earworm of a chorus this is an instant favourite from their discography for me. I predict that this will also be a highlight in their live shows in the future. On ‘Don’t Let Go’ the haunting, jagged and skeletal intro explodes into one of Stella’s best drum performances yet, giving the track an almost visceral quality. This track, to me, is a beautiful tribute The Fool's sound palette. Another standout is the excellently-titled ‘Dre’, with production so ethereal that it’s almost other-worldly, a term I'd use to describe Warpaint at their very best.

In brief, Warpaint keep getting better as they expand their sound whilst delving deeper into the palettes they’ve dabbled in before. Despite Jenny Lee’s recent solo venue and Theresa working on material of her own (hopefully to be released next year), Warpaint is still a cohesive unit of four of the most talented musicians around and seeing them continue to thrive and experiment is an absolute thrill for me to see. I cannot recommend this, and their discography as a whole, enough.  

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