2013 was the year the all-woman four-piece Haim captured the whole of Britain’s attention (yes, even David Cameron acknowledged his utmost reverence for the band via Twitter), but 2014 is the year of Warpaint.
Fortunately for Warpaint’s fans, the band are in no way assimilated with David Cameron, or any other obsolete politician trying to stay in touch with the music world (and even perhaps the real world), in order to appeal to the younger electorate. In fact, with their debut only selling 30,000 copies, there is little to account for the talent the quartet from L.A have. However, with festival season on the horizon, and the release of their self-titled album at the beginning of this week, music critics will turn their attention to one of the most promising bands in the music industry today.
I was lucky enough to see Warpaint at Brixton Academy last October, and was privileged to hear some of their new unreleased material. It was unquestionably one of the most endearingly bizarre gigs I have ever attended. It was only a few days after Lou Reed had passed away, and there was a cloud of aberrant pessimism shrouding the crowd of music lovers’ heads, as the DJ decided to put on Lou Reed’s discography to ‘warm up’ the crowd, which ironically served as a complete paradox to its intentions. It was an intense atmosphere, which would be hard for Warpaint to break, but with their innovative, refreshing dose of alternative soft-grunge rock, they restored the crowd’s faith in the music industry’s capability to produce something immensely great. Their self-titled album only reinforces this.
…the most intriguing is the marijuana induced…
The album begins with the drifting and beguiling Intro, which doesn’t build up to anything astounding and it ceases to fail to leave you enchanted, but after all it is only the intro. The album then delves straight into Keep It Healthy, of which Theresa’s ghostly vocals float through the disjointed, but nevertheless hypnotic, riffs. Theresa’s vocals are far more prominent in this album in contrast to their debut, where the vocals were more equally distributed between Emily Kokal and Theresa. Love Is To Die which engenders the conflicting, and quite frankly frustrating lyrics ‘Love is to die, Love is to not die’ is perhaps the most anthemic track on the album, despite the band being unable to make up their minds.
There is an array of surprises that feature on this album, perhaps the most intriguing is the marijuana induced, Portishead-influenced Hi. The track offers provocative dub seductions, which befittingly suits Theresa’s term to embody the general theme of the album, ‘sexy’. Aside from Love Is To Die, Biggy is Warpaint’s exceptional moment of subtle musical genius. It’s the sort of track that Thom Yorke would have loved to produced, or written himself. It’s not something that will make you want to get up and dance with enthusiasm, but it will make you drift along on Warpaint’s enigmatic and nebulous journey to music’s utopia of subtle and intimate brilliance.
…a burst of eidolic vocals…
Disco//Very is the album’s most ‘upbeat’ track (although it’s conspicuously dubious to assimilate ‘upbeat’ with Warpaint), which is juxtaposed with dark and spidery tremors of bass and ominous lyrics ‘Don’t you battle, we’ll kill you, we’ll rip you up and tear you in two’. Stella Mogwaza’s mastery of percussion which has a heavy R&B influence supports the foundations of this track, as well as serving as the beating heart of the album as a whole.
Drive is immersed with synths, which is underpinned by the bands hazy harmonious vocals and then fades out with their signature XX-esque guitar sound. The album ends on a stripped down surprise, Son, with guitars, drums and bass virtually non-existent for most of the track. However, this subtle stripped down side to Warpaint is soon overturned by a burst of eidolic vocals, and beautifully crafted soft-grunge with an electronic edge.
…their self-titled album is shrouded with mastery, ambition, and musical prowess…
It’s certainly not an album that will be engulfed by the mainstream, but Warpaint are inherently anti-mainstream, defying the stereotypes of the LA rock scene, and offering an interesting alternative to Haim. Their debut album sounds more like a rambling scrapbook of their influences, whereas their self-titled album is shrouded with mastery, ambition, and musical prowess. The band have learned to meld all of their talented elements into something incredibly fulfilling for themselves, and us as listeners. Each song carries its own distinct personality, and the album as a whole is a deeply personal and intimate record, yet with the help of Foals and Radiohead producer Nigel Godrich, it stands as a cohesive masterpiece.