You'd be a fool not to fall for Warpaint
- Oct 06, 2011
They say that good things come to those who wait, and Warpaint is a band whose music certainly backs this up. While it sounds good enough on first listen, spend some quality time with it and you may just fall in love.
On first approaching 'The Fool' you could be forgiven for expecting the outcome of some sort of evil marketing experiment to create a band of PJ Harveys or The Breeders mk 2. But a few listens to the LA four-piece's debut (repackaged here with their 'Exquisite Corpse EP') will leave you in no doubt these ladies mean business.
Put bluntly, this is one of the most considered and elegantly crafted records you'll hear in ages.
Let's start at the peak. 'Undertow' is a masterpiece. The song accomplishes everything it promises with those lush opening chords, and is so good it actually threatens to outshine the album as a whole until you take some time to dig into the other material on offer here.
Enigmatic yet immediate, ethereal yet powerful, the track is a musical puzzle box, its secrets intricately coiled within. From the painstaking vocal phrasing to bassist Jenny Lee Lindberg's stunning Rage Against The Machine impression around 2.30, it's a dramatic, sweeping, intense experience that you owe it to yourself to hear and unravel.
If there are two moods that tether 'The Fool' they're melancholy and a kind of restless, nervous energy. The former is probably best represented by the quietly devastating 'Shadows', a fractured account of heartbreak and emptiness that also emphatically demonstrates Warpaint's inventive and immensely talented rhythm section through some fantastic bass/drums interplay.
Then there's 'Baby', which fits somewhere between the two poles and is undoubtedly the most beautiful and haunting piece on the album. Driven by Emily Kokal's voice and acoustic guitar, it's shot through with a jealous menace that somehow manages to be both heartrending and unsettling at the same time. Dragged out it may be, but it's still a thing to cherish.
Elsewhere, the less prominent tracks still offer moments of intrigue; the weird, off-kilter vocals of 'Bees', the contrast between the big, autumnal melodies and quirky little bursts of noise on the gloriously embittered 'Majesty'. In many ways, this is a musician's album, brimming with ideas and their captivating execution.
On that note, it has to be said that one of Warpaint's only real weaknesses as a band is overkill. Every song here requires a fairly hefty canvas to fully spread its wings (five minutes plus as standard), and those looking for a quick fix simply won't find it.
The wonderfully-titled 'Exquisite Corpse EP' provides an extra helping of more of the same; as you'd expect from fledgling output it feels slightly less polished, but will still hit the spot for fans of the album proper.
'Krimson' introduces a punky rumble to proceedings, while 'Elephants' exploits a hypnotic guitar lick. Current single 'Billie Holiday' has a nursery rhyme quality to it that suggests a stoned Feist, also riffing on The Supremes' classic 'My Guy'.
So, to get the most out of Warpaint you've really got to invest in it a little - ideally with some decent headphones, a big spliff and a slightly moody disposition. But it's worth it.