Warpaint - Warpaint
- Fiona Shepherd
- 10 January 2014
The LA pop-rock quartet experiment with a more pared-back sound for their long-awaited follow-up to The Fool, with mixed results
It takes a lot of hard work to sound this organic and elemental. Well-connected LA quartet Warpaint have spent three years conceiving and recording the eponymous follow-up to their acclaimed debut album The Fool, with the whole painstaking process filmed and photographed by celebrated video director Chris Cunningham, husband of bassist Jenny Lee Lindberg.
Even without his accompanying visuals, Warpaint is rich on resonance. Despite the lengthy, exploratory gestation, it’s no great leap forwards from The Fool, more a consolidation of the hypnotic and haunting elements of a sound which favours feel over hooks. ‘Hi’, for example, is not much of a song – it’s more mantra than melody – but is still an enticing five minutes of shimmering sonics and siren vocals. Meanwhile, right from the off, the rumbling, gothic bass of ‘Intro’ pitches Warpaint as the band that 4AD forgot, occupying the middle ground between Throwing Muses and Cocteau Twins.
More keyboards have been added to the group’s blended palette but the general trend is towards a more pared-back sound which can leave them exposed, especially in the latter stages of the album when too many tracks waft along blandly and uneventfully. But it works to their advantage to spotlight the clear, bright vocals of ‘Keep it Healthy’ or the stripped-back caress of ‘Teese’ and controlled melodrama of closing ballad ‘Son’.
They bulk up the ethereal diet a bit with the minimal punk-funk groove and strident vocals of ‘Disco//Very’ and the sonorous Afro-jazz backing of ‘Go In’ which contrasts with the breathy harmonic voices. But nothing else on Warpaint quite matches up to the heady swoon, arresting chord changes and seductive vocals of the lead single ‘Love is to Die’. It’s their finest moment to date, an exotic beast which toys with the senses for nigh on five minutes and still leaves you wanting more.