Release Date: Oct 26, 2010
Record label: Rough Trade
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock, Indie Rock, New Wave/Post-Punk Revival, Dream Pop, Psychedelic/Garage
It hardly bears repeating that, when lists evaluating 2010 are squared up, it’ll be judged a temporal stepping-stone back to non-existent nostalgic times. With that has come a wave of trad Spectorite girl bands, delighting – for better or worse – in quaint tropes of girlishness: incessantly singing about boys or the lack thereof ([a]Best Coast[/a]), wallowing in the romance of being in a girl gang (Dum Dum/[a]Vivian Girls[/a]), and plonking femininity front and centre (Frankie Rose & The Outs). Don’t even get us started on The Like.
With a hypnotic sound, magical mood and some Cat Power-inspired fairy-like vocals, L.A. based Warpaint has created a debut album to fall in love with—and to. It’s uncomplicated, psychedelic indie-girl rock with plenty of hazy guitar and a swooning, restrained sadness. Compared to Exquisite Corpse, the band’s first EP, The Fool has a somewhat lamentable polished and predictable quality to it; but let’s face it, that’s exactly why it’s bound to be played in every hip boutique in the world.
For a band who has just released their first record, Warpaint sound absolutely exhausted. “I’m afraid, I’m drunk and I’m tired … my hand in my pocket I feel like a shadow,” sings Theresa Wayman in her reverb-drenched sigh on “Shadows.” The band has been scaling the ever-precarious mountain of indie-buzz for a couple years now, thanks primarily to an intriguing EP back in 2009—garnering comparison to everyone from alt-rock OG’s like Sonic Youth and The Breeders to fellow upstarts Crystal Stilts. But The Fool, which took nearly six years to finalize, incorporates coastal psych and voluminous noise-pop with a dash of Spector-flecked harmonies.
What ever happened to some old fashioned elegance? In these days of vintage aspirations and chilled states of mind, there’s a certain loss for more customary ways to transmit emotion. Technical proficiency has become a crutch for artists to further their intuitions, yet only manage to scrape the surface off past influences. Warpaint like to work the other way around.
Review Summary: Shimmering psychedelic post-punk to get lost into. While Bethany Cosentino and Nathan Williams (of Best Coast and Wavves respectively) hallmarked their Los Angeles summers with scrappy, pointed teenage sensibilities, Warpaint’s buzz has been steadily growing in the cold currents of those Pacific Californian beaches since 2009’s Exquisite Corpse EP put them on the map. The EP was a force to be reckoned with and it didn’t take too long before it earned them spots as standard fixtures on just about every buzz blog out there; an all-girl quartet armed to the teeth with airy psychedelic post-punk jams, not the least of which the hype-igniting “Billie Holiday”, a song that stuffed Smokey Robinson into something Cat Power would’ve dreamily recorded if she was a member of Mazzy Star.
There is a disconcerting moment in Warpaint's debut album when the LA-based quartet might be addressing their listeners directly. "Now I've got you in the undertow," singer-guitarists Emily Kokal and Theresa Wayman chime, in voices sweet and lethally seductive. The line feels apposite because Warpaint make music to submerge yourself in, limpid on the surface, eddying beneath.
Emily Kokal's singing -- backed by bandmates Theresa Wayman and Jenny Lee Lindberg, and awash in reverb -- could be mistaken for something ghostly, if Warpaint's sound wasn't so vitally alive behind her. Unwilling to coast on the pure beauty of the vocals on The Fool, this all-female quartet builds thick, muscled songs that Kokal's otherwordly voice beds down in. These songs are expansive without sounding bloated, and noisy yet sharp.
When singer-guitarists Emily Kokal and Theresa Wayman sing, "now I've got you in the undertow," on Warpaint's debut LP, the line comes off like a threat. It's not dramatic, though. The words come out serenely-- perhaps too serenely. "What's the matter?/ You hurt yourself?/ Open your eyes and there was someone else," they coo dreamily, shape-shifting underneath a fine mist of guitars and bass.
Run for the hills! They’re coming! Forget the cat, the car and the kids just bloody run! Leggit! Save yourself! Get off the grid! Change your name to Ralph! OK, a slight exaggeration for whimsical merriment but make no mistake Warpaint’s debut The Fool is bloody terrifying. So terrifying that I recommend you remind yourself “It’s only a record, it’s only a record”. Even then I can’t guarantee your safety.
A couple of months ago, I prefaced a review of Everything Everything’s debut album with some waffling thesis attempting to grapple with the fact that the term ‘indie’ is no longer really synonymous with music put out by four piece retro guitar combos on independent record labels. Maaaaaaaaaybe I still believe that, but I guess all the chillwave in the world isn't going to alter the fact that while labels like Rough Trade choose to sign four piece retro guitar combos like Warpaint, then maybe indie is just going to stay plain old indie a while longer. Now, the term ‘retro guitar combo’ is no condescension.
Chances are you’ve heard of these guys already. The all-girl L.A. quartet’s internet profile has been steadily growing since their release of the John Frusciante-mixed Exquisite Corpse EP in 2008. And, really, who’s surprised? No one who’s laid ears on tracks like “Elephants” or “Stars,” that’s for damn sure.
On The Fool, Warpaint sound surprisingly delicate, given their combative name. The L.A. group’s first full-length picks up where their debut EP Exquisite Corpse left off, serving up darkly feminine songs with instinctive structures that call to mind the explorations of Rings and Telepathe. The Fool’s songs are so impressionistic that it’s easy to hear why some have called them dream pop or shoegaze, but Warpaint’s sound isn’t so easily classified.
On their debut album, buzzed-about L.A.-based quartet Warpaint create a brooding twilight mood with delicate, reverberating guitars, unhurried vocals and country minimalism. It's the kind of music that drifts past the ears and floats away in a dreamy haze. What remains is the distinct impression that the group enjoys the darker spectrum of 90s West Coast alt rock.
Though Warpaint’s actual debut was 2008’s Exquisite Corpse, the quartet has truly come into its own on The Fool, its first LP for Rough Trade. Loaded with effect-riddled guitar lines and hypnotic drum patterns, the all-girl group’s haunting vocals evoke a pseudo-psychedelic feeling (think Au Revoir Simone with a dark secret and more minor key signatures) that aligns itself with a grungy early ’90s aesthetic. Songs run the gamut from minimalist acoustic productions, like “Baby,” to tracks that incorporate reverb-drenched guitars in a far fuller production, like the self-titled “Warpaint.
LA four-piece re-imagine 80s goth and tap into a singular slo-core style. Martin Aston 2010 Though Warpaint were probably minus-four-years-old at the time, and on the wrong continent, the all-female LA quartet appear to have a direct line back to 1982 Britain. When ‘gothic’ was not a term of abuse, long overcoats were the alt-fashion and resistance to New Romanticism was on a par with anti-nuclear protest.
Warpaint's 2009 EP, Exquisite Corpse, hinted at the L.A. quartet's ambidexterity, but its colors were muted. On debut LP The Fool, the highlights and lowlights intensify with every cut. Standout "Bees," with its pinging guitars, and "Composure," a slow-burning cheerleader chant, demonstrate how all four women work to tangle and untangle their three-part harmonies, heavy basslines, and moody rings of psych for maximum effect.
Jazmine Sullivan Jazmine Sullivan gets straight to the point, often in pithy one-syllable words, on her second album, “Love Me Back” (J Records). In “Good Enough,” one of the many songs in her repertory aimed at some unappreciative jerk, she sings, “If I’m not good enough, then baby, there’s the door.” The album also has some amorous songs, but they’re outnumbered by breakups that let her fully unleash her wrath. Her voice is narrow and jagged, with more grain and more tears as she applies gospel dynamics to her venting; the productions use hip-hop programming but aim for soul.
Warpaint’s debut full-length album, The Fool, is scary good – extra emphasis on the scary. The all-female quartet have created their own Frankenstein, a mixture of ghostly vocals, pounding drums and droning instrumentation, coming together to create nine songs that are “monster” cuts in every sense of the word. From the album’s first chord, a dreary, softly strummed pattern on “Set Your Arms Down,” it’s clear The Fool follows a formula focused on two things – repetition, and a constant build-up of sound.