Warpaint - Warpaint

Warpaint - Warpaint

Rough Trade Records (USA) | Indie Rock, Dream Pop

Grade: A-

From start to finish, the sophomore effort from this Los Angeles-based four piece emanates a dense atmosphere, each track transitioning beautifully to the next. Soaked in a somewhat ethereal splendor, the record is held together by a subtle, carnal groove which comes across as tribal yet intricate. In a way, the band have crafted a vast, disparate aural landscape, where haunting melodies and gloomy instrumentation beam down like a heavy kind of moonlight, interplaying morose restraint with a starry eyed animal instinct. Produced and mixed by the talented duo of Flood (U2, PJ Harvey) and Nigel Goodrich (Radiohead), the record feels almost nocturnal in nature; each chord balancing on effulgence, every vocal line bellowing like a severed shade of night time. The bass lines are dark and heavy, but luminous.

Emily Kokal and Theresa Wayman take turns singing lead vocals and layering waves of lush melody, while the rhythm section of Jenny Lee Lindberg and Stella Mozgawa proves absolutely stellar, drawing influence from genres such as R&B and hip-hop. Spanning approximately 50 minutes, Warpaint is best consumed whole, working well through a sense of synergy. However, there are individual tracks that do demand attention when singled out: “Love Is To Die,” with it’s dark sensuality; and “Disco Very,” which pumps on like a funeral procession. “Teese” is another standout, sounding like a wispy, warm whisper by candlelight. With several traces of banter also included between songs, a live dynamic is also apparent, serving to further magnify the intimacy between band and listener.

Lyrically, themes are a little ambiguous and arcane, loosely centered on love and romance, and almost always reaching a gripping mantra: “Love is to die, love is to not die, love is to dance.” The album starts with a short introduction; an instrumental jam highlighted by what sounds like a howling synthesiser. This leads perfectly into “Keep It Healthy,” which greets us with a plethora of descending arpeggios, eventually coming together with doses of haunting backing vocals and off-beat, percussive drumming. These elements become familiar throughout the course of the record as they form the basis of many of the album’s other tracks. Though not all tracks are memorable, none are by any means wasted space. What they all do achieve is the creation of a consistent sense of mood, making this record an overall worthwhile, though sometimes esoteric, experience. A mood record, made for the midnight inside us.
This article first appeared in Issue 1, 2014.
Posted 6:57pm Sunday 23rd February 2014 by Adrian Ng.