It is acceptable to feel a haunting aura when listening to Los Angeles indie rock outfit Warpaint. Since 2004, the band has dealt with darker, moodier and more psychedelic textures than most of their indie peers. On the band’s debut EP, Exquisite Corpse, we saw Warpaint dealing with quiet yet lush sounds, a pre-cursor to what would become more prevalent on The Fool. Now, on Warpaint’s third self-titled album, long time fans will notice a band that has come full circle, with refined songwriting and a new found ambition while still remaining accessible to new audiences. Drawing queues from psychedelia, goth, electronica and even disco (!), Warpaint is the band’s best, most varied and ambitious album to date.
One thing that is apparent about this album is the time it spends building up and releasing, like a constant ebb and flow of sonic tension and relief. This can be seen from the intro, a pretty substantial instrumental piece with a thick, driving bassline and guitar drones akin to 90’s bands such as Seefeel. The intro leads into the song “Keep It Healthy” a track that could have honestly fit anywhere on the band’s last album. Emily Kokal’s vocals are still airy and haunting, weaving in and out of the mix of melodic guitars.
While the first two tracks delve into the tones that saturate the indie world, Warpaint spends the rest of the album exploring sounds from a myriad of genres. Take for example the song “Hi”, a track that slowly burns over the first minute but then manages to explode into a trip-hoppy beat that is relative to groups such as Massive Attack. Warpaint does a great job of taking stylistic differences from a number of influences and melding them into a cohesive album. The same can certainly be said for the track “Disco//Very”: the most danceable song on the entire LP, yet it still somehow manages to fit within the overall context of the project.
The only downfall for the album is the closer, “Son”, an anti-climatic psychedelic ballad. After spending an entire album building up and taking the listener on a sonic journey, the track just does not bring closure in the proper manner (though, it most certainly is not a bad song). With that being said, Warpaint is most certainly an enjoyable listen for fans and anybody looking to get into the band. This album has variety, ambition and great songwriting that yields high replay value. Not only does Warpaint start off the year well, they also manage to start it off with style. I am looking forward to whatever the band puts out next and I highly recommend listening to previous projects if you have not already.
Favorite Tracks: “Love is to Die”, “Hi”, “Disco//Very”, “CC”
Not-So-Favorite Tracks: “Son”, “Feeling Alright”