Rough Trade Records
After 2010’s successful and widely well received debut LA four piece, Warpaint, are back with their next self-titled opus. Hoping to build on previous success and open themselves up to a wider audience this time with a bigger sound and added electronics to their shoegazey sound.
It opens on a very positive and promising note with the short 1 minute 50 ‘Intro’ who’s atmospheric, swirling guitars, pounding drums and deep, protruding bass line brings you in and gives you a sense of what is to come on this their second release. ‘Keep It Healthy’ follows much in the same vein blurring boundaries musically between tracks. The vocals have a nostalgic twang to their naturally harmonious nature and the elongated notes towards the end of the song add a slightly far east vibe.
Single ‘Love Is To Die’ builds slowly to a more subdued sound, it’s quiet, almost lethargic bar the drums which keep up a quick pace. When it gets to the chorus things are still at a pedestrian pace but that’s not a bad thing, it works, the music is good. This, along with many others here, show that things don’t need to be fast tempoed or in your face to be brilliant and stripping things back can definitely be beneficial musically.
A lot of this album can be described as calm, subdued but with plenty of atmosphere running throughout whether it’s from the emotional vocals, electronics that come and go and the quick hi-hat and drum combination of ‘Hi’ or the soft, building vocals and plucked guitar strings of ‘Teese’. The chilled out vibes make this album a lovely and interesting listen, perfect to relax to and really pick apart the layers of sounds and vocals laced with everything from sadness to anger. There are complex melodies and beautiful harmonies, nothing is unnecessary or over the top here really making you appreciate the beauty of music and sound when it is done this well.
Though when we come to songs like ‘Biggy’ and ‘Disco/Very’ we have some other very different influences added to the otherwise tame indie on the album. The former’s dirty, scuzzy synths command a lot of this track giving it a rockier edge that gives way to Kraftwerk-esque electronics towards the end. While the latter is clearly the most up-tempo and danceable of all the tracks so far on this LP: bigger sounds, a good rhythm and a slick, sexy edge, it will see your hips swaying along to this one.
On the second half of the album, we have the slow, lethargic, somewhat psychedelic sound of ‘Go In’, a song given space to breathe showcasing the band’s confidence in their music to let it be. Then there is ‘Feeling Alright’ with it’s upbeat, jazzy atmosphere, bouncy bass and echoing guitar notes left ringing in your ears long after the have gone and ‘CC’ with its hazy vocals and threatening sounding undercurrent creating a grand atmosphere that really makes this track stand out.
While album closer ‘Son’ features dank, atmosphere laden piano gently plodding along in the background creating a huge sound. The vocals are drowsy, almost slurring from one word to the next while a quick marching band style drum and mellow ebbing and flowing guitar adds an extra element but doesn’t take away from the initial quiet.
This is a great album and a brilliant listen; it may not instantly hit you with how good it is instead subtly seeping into your subconscious with its excellence. It may have taken nearly 3 years for this follow up but it seems to me from the strength of ‘Warpaint’ it has been well worth the wait.
Below is a video of Warpaint performing the single ‘Love Is To Die’ for a ‘Line of Best Fit’ session: