The LA band's second LP reviewed by Cameron McBroom
The cover to Warpaint’s self-titled sophomore album is a fitting depiction of what lies inside. Photos of the all-female band are superimposed on one another, forming a faint, smoky image that shifts in and out of focus. Warpaint’s subtle union of dream-pop space and steady, post-rock rhythms is fleshed out similarly. Each member rotates into the spotlight, conscious never to stay too long, creating a sound that is at once airy and meticulously layered.
Lead single and standout track “Love Is to Die” showcases Warpaint’s ability to stretch and meld with one another. Opening with scratchy synths and sparse, percussive clicks, the chemistry between bassist Jenny Lee Lindberg and drummer Stella Mozgawa blossoms the song into a lush groove. Lead guitarist Emily Kokal takes a backseat, chiming in with bright echoes while Theresa Wayman pieces together makeshift vocal phrases. Wayman’s stark swells at the beginning of each chorus break the song apart, only for it to be reassembled with added detail.
Slinky guitar patterns offer up a sense of movement on “Keep It Healthy,” while “Disco//very,” a twisted take on a four-on-the-floor beat, pumps some blood into the band’s creeping soundscapes, but this momentum comes too soon. Warpaint is rarely uptempo or immediate, but its second half verges on becoming exhausted. “CC” and “Drive” fail to reach the same heights as earlier songs, forcing the album into a slog after the plodding, yet beautiful and Grizzly Bear-like “Go In”. Previous tracks like “Biggy” and “Teese” prove better able to capture Warpaint’s synergy without sounding derivative or tired. The former cruises along a rich synth-bass line, while the latter builds nicely from its soft, acoustic opening. There are no drastic changes on this record, but that doesn’t keep the songs that work from sounding fresh. Its strengths are in its little variations and lack of urgency.
Warpaint crafts their own dreamy brand of trip-hop, and they do it well. Textured melodies are buried beneath a misty ambiance and thick rhythms. Occasionally, these melodies can be buried too far, but Warpaint is best suited for those who aren’t afraid to do a bit of digging.