Record Label: Rough Trade
This list of dichotomies runs deep when conjuring up a way to define the new eponymously titled record by Warpaint. It’s an LP that’s fluid yet rigid, striking while being subtle and aloof. This is the sound of four friends in a creative purple patch birthing the sound of a very modern take on rock ‘n’ roll; this is psychedelia but one that doesn’t mine the past. ‘Warpaint’s trippy, layered aesthetic has a hypnotic quality, one that should come with a health warning “do not drive or operate heavy machinery whilst experiencing ‘Warpaint’” the album’s mesh of atmospheric guitar sonic waves, steadfast beats, propulsive drums and celestial vocals are trance worthy, almost dope smoke-esque.
Any record that kicks off with an instrumental opener is a winner in my book and with the four piece’s newest incarnation commencing with ‘Intro’, my heart was won at the first pacey, urgent beat. The sound of Stella Mozgawa’s stick work is something to behold and in turn becomes the pivot in which the whole record rotates on. That and Jenny Lee Lindberg’s rumbling, mesmerising basslines which sketch out infectious groove after infectious groove. As scene setters go, ‘Intro’ is perfect, even if within 10 seconds the track is aborted by a solitary “sorry”, to then kick off again with a menacing, repetitive twist and turn. As a blueprint for the LA unit’s return back to the forefront, statements of intent and sheer musicianship doesn’t come any better than this. The record’s vein of enchantment is continued by ‘Keep It Healthy’, a nugget made of spooky rhythms and disorienting noises like insects have crept into your earholes. Vocalist, Theresa Wyman offers an invite of pure discovery with the cursory “take my hand, take my heart/into this moment”. Such an offer is too hard to pass up.
Although comparisons cheapen such an astounding sophomore release, you can’t help but hear the echoes of silence normally distilled by old touring buddies, The xx. Equally latter day Radiohead crops up during the album’s more rhythmic instances. Unsurprisingly, Radiohead producer Nigel Godrich mixed ‘Warpaint’.
When interviewed by The Guardian recently, Wayman declared a simple manifesto that was the blueprint for ‘Warpaint’. “We leant towards things we thought were sexier” is how the vocalist summarised the carnal sonic romp of her band’s second LP. “It was an actual adjective we would use, like, ‘oh that’s sexy’ or ‘I think it would be sexier if we did this…” This isn’t too be misconstrued with gratuitous objectification of the female form e.g. Rihanna or Miley Cyrus. There’s a sophisticated, sexual heart that throbs at the nucleus of ‘Warpaint’, which is again attributed to Mozgawa’s climatic drumming and Lindberg’s omnipresent bass pulse. Sensuality simmers at every turn, ‘Hi’ channels Massive Attack at their most brooding with a distant hum that slowly swells into a mystical, spellbinding sweaty mess of noise. Darkness descends once ‘Disco//very’ shuffles into view, all swaggering hips and come to bed eyes. Be warned though, such enticing proclamations could be hazardous to your health with Warpaint cackling “Don’t you battle/we’ll kill you/rip you up and tear you in two” akin to raunchy witches around a bubbling cauldron or the unsettling invoking image of a cluster of black widow spiders, Warpaint convey the guise of four strong female who would chew up and spit out most ill-fated men.
Delightfully simplistic, with touches of experimentalism. Sexual without being crass and a groove that could go on forever, Warpaint may have taken almost four years to follow up their debut album, The Fool, but it was damn well sure worth the sweaty, sensual wait.
Words and Thoughts of Adam Williams