If Warpaint’s first album, ‘The Fool’, felt like the band were swimming in a dazzlingly mystical lagoon then their self-titled follow-up feels like they’ve found their feet and are marauding through an enchanted forest. Their blend of shape-shifting guitars, flowing bass and trance-inducing drums creates a heady mix to which the vocals of Emily Kokal and Theresa Wayman provide the final psychedelic flourish. Their moody sound may not be as approachable to those more accustomed to more cheery guitar-based bands (HAIM for example), and it would be unlikely that any of the songs from this album will feature in the charts but that is to miss the point of Warpaint. Their music speaks in lush dramatic tones and this record has an awful lot to admire.
The instrumental opener, ‘Intro’, with its false-start and apology from drummer Stella Mozgawa, immediately sets the tone with a vibrant moving rhythm and Jenny Lee Lindberg’s menacing bass blending together underneath the eerie effects that loop over the top. Whilst their songs drift along with an almost horizontally laid-back feeling, there is an immediacy with each song that casts its spell upon the listener. Crucial to this is the production by Flood (PJ Harvey, Sigur Ros and Foals) who manages to perfectly capture the tight-knit groove of the band whilst allowing their songs to be carried upon a warm sonic breeze. ‘Love Is To Die’ moves along with sultry menace with the vocals cutting through the mix declaring that “Love is to die, love is to not die, love is a dance”. With its pulsating rhythm and hypnotic vocals ‘Disco // very’ sees the band branch off into a slightly more dance-led direction, but their signature guitars and bass keep the track grounded.
There’s a feint whiff of Latin American rhythm to ‘Go In’ which glides sweetly underneath the psychedelic vocals and backwards guitars, it’s a mesmerising track that shows off the ease in which the band perform together. It’s rare to find an album where each song feels like it contributes something to the entire project. From the directness of ‘Feeling Alright’ to the beautiful closing piano-led track ‘Son’, there’s a true sense of direction that underlines everything this band does.
It’s safe to safe that the dreaded second album syndrome doesn’t even come close to raising its ugly head near this offering. The songs are woven out of a majestic fabric not often heard with production that allows them to shine. There’s a swagger and assuredness here that raises the bar for all bands out there right now.