Radiate Like This by Warpaint Album Review by Adam Williams for Northern Transmissions

Heirlooms/Virgin Music

9

Warpaint

Radiate Like This

There was a time where it seemed like a new Warpaint LP wouldn’t happen. The four members of the group (Emily Kokal (vocals/guitar), Jenny Lee Lindberg (bass/vocals), Stella Mozgawa (drums/vocals) and Theresa Wayman (guitar/vocals)) were occupied with numerous things, namely “babies, jobs, tours and solo albums” and moves that saw them spread out across the world. Eventually the attraction of their day job saw them all get pulled back, like a tractor beam, to Warpaint, where they began toiling over what would become ‘Radiate Like This’, their fourth record and their first album in six years.

The formation of ‘Radiate Like This’ began in the traditional sense, with the foursome jamming ideas and laying down the foundations of the LP with co-producer Sam Pett-Davies (Thom Yorke, Frank Ocean and Skullcrusher). However, once Covid hit, Warpaint retreated to their respective homes to finish their parts in makeshift studios. This resulted in the group exchanging music, only for the next person to build on what had been previously sent. Layer upon layer, the songs began to take shape in what became a positive experience for the group. When reflecting on the album’s birth, Kokal has commented “it’s the first time we’ve ever made an album like that, but in a weird way, it made us take our time with everything. The process felt more meditative, less rushed”. Unsurprisingly this notion courses through the veins of ‘Radiate Like This’, it’s an album of ethereal nature, where sounds wistfully emerge, coalesce and evolve in one long nebulous sequence. It’s appropriately reminiscent of the time where the world stopped for a brief moment; there’s a sense of calm but with the spectre of uncertainty looming large.

Waiflike and dreamy, Warpaint’s latest and much anticipated return is an album that beguiles its listener, like the allure of a mermaid’s call. It’s a record that side-steps tangibility, with vapour-like sonics that manifest and quickly evaporate. Opening track and lead single ‘Champion’ sets the tone with its hazy, low hum and clipped beats. Kokal’s breathy vocals ooze effortless cool, as the singer purrs a statement of solidarity “we’re all the same sun/we’re all our own sun too/we’re all the ocean/we all look up to you” while a cyclical riff amalgamates with a subtle bass thrum, to make something that has a low-key danceability. The themes of unity and companionship crop up throughout the record, which makes sense given how the album came into the world. Clearly ‘Radiate Like This’ was born from seclusion but its evident Warpaint are a close-knit unit and this notion shines bright throughout. Equally references to the sun and togetherness are constants. ‘Stevie’ wiggles with an understated R’n’B smoothness where Kokal claims “you make me happy/you make me wanna/you make me wanna dance/with you”. Tribal rhythms combine with an atmospheric hue on ‘Altar’, a song that eventually climaxes with a 4am blissed out love-in and Kokal murmuring words of infatuation “here I am at your altar”. Meanwhile ‘Melting’s ghostliness glistens with uninhibited affection “you’re the only one I want you know/I need you around”. Shrouded in a broader, darker palette the song eventually glides to a close via an endless bass groove.

For a record of dreamy nature, there are occasional flirtations with the gloomier end of the sonic spectrum. ‘Hips’ snakes and wiggles with a predatory stance, as a sparse and moody proclivity cocoons Kokal’s hushed vocals. “Don’t fuck with her/she knows where you’re hiding” highlights the song’s discreet menace. Dark and elegant ‘Trouble’ details the need to exorcise demons and rid ourselves of bad thoughts “trouble/I carry with me all you have said/trouble/now I need your voice out of my head”. Lush orchestral flourishes give the song an extra layer of theatrics so to further accentuate its narrative. Tonal electronics and thick bass grooves add a level of buoyancy to ‘Hard to Tell You’s constant hum. Here is where we find Kokal out of sorts, wrestling with her thoughts and actions “I just don’t know where to start/will this heart of mine always be so restless?”

As if we needed it re-confirming…’Radiate Like This’ emphasis0es how special Warpaint are as a band – listen on in wonder.

Order Radiate Like This by Warpaint HERE