It’s still easy to think of Warpaint, the four-piece psych rock group from Los Angeles, as a relatively new band. While their engrossing self-titled album is only their second release so far, the band has been active for about ten years now, and no longer sound like a group trying to find their sound. Their 2010 debut, The Fool, drew them attention, but Warpaint is definitely a step up. The album is a deep and murky journey into dream pop that finds the band at their most cohesive yet.
When Warpaint played Austin Psych Fest last April, they were impressively tight and groovy, and that experience and maturity transfers well into the studio recordings this time around. Vocalist Emily Kokai uses her voice mainly as an additional instrument to accompany the rest of the band, lightly sailing over the lulling sounds. Rather than going for big or triumphant moments, the band lives in the shadows throughout here, focusing on how all the piece lock in place to build something bigger.
Warpaint has been compared to dream pop legends like The Cocteau Twins in the past, and while they still thrive in that area, the music here is often more throbbing and electronic, to the point where similarities can be drawn to bands like Portishead or the later work by Radiohead. This is most apparent on tracks like the dance-rock influenced “Disco/Very”, where Warpaint shows themselves as a hazier companion to bands like Liars. Other songs like “Keep It Healthy” show the band progressing with complicated buildups in a pristine manner.
While nothing here tops the simplistic beauty of earlier songs like “Baby,” as a whole Warpaint feels like the band’s most accomplished work to date. Songs like “Biggy” keep a slowed down yet driving momentum that is largely captivating. Sometimes, moments can feel a tad too stagnant, but the album thankfully never really gets stuck in a lull. It’s not meant to be an invigorating or exciting album, but rather the kind that gets played in those waning moments in the night where everything slows down.
Warpaint’s latest is a solidly inviting one that has many good moments and flows well together. It could have definitely been a big more captivating, as even though it works as a slower dream-pop album, it’s maybe a bit too easy for the listener’s attention to fade in and out while listening. The record shows definite progress, yet also leaves room for Warpaint to grow. With steps like this along the way, the journey will without a doubt be intriguing to watch.
Label: Rough Trade
Songs to download: “Biggy”, “Disco/Very” & “Feeling Right”