Released January 17th, 2014
The Warpaint quartet return with a tripped out journey into the stratosphere. The eponymous album sways through a deep lethargy and does not shy away from the dignified melancholy that has come to underpin their sound. However the experimental album appears as something of a regression, as effects detract from their talent. In itself, Warpaint is by no means a poor album, but alongside The Fool and standout EP Exquisite Corpse, it just doesn’t reach the same consistent heights.
Warpaint rekindles the tender harmonic vocals of before, but the meaning appears devoid of the emotion ‘Billie Holiday’ had epitomised. A greater presence of effects is perhaps the problem, as the vocal sound becomes too convoluted amongst the mist. Their earlier vocal work stood out for its raw individuality, as the focal point of their talent. Here, excessive effects (e.g. ‘Disco//very’) draw the focus away for them, whilst the lyrics scarcely seem to do them justice. Too much is going on where before simplicity held its own. Somehow the balance periodically loses itself within the effects, whilst even the guitar chords appear lacklustre in expression. Somewhere a footing is lost, as harmonies remain, but without the potency of before.
Fine moments do still appear amidst the album. The steadily built ‘Drive’ is one such track. Anchored dominantly between two chords, bubble-like picks and pleasant harmonies, this is Warpaint on form. ‘Biggy’ also draws attention, as a downbeat tempo reflects a more natural session of recording, over layered with semi-angelic vocals at their peak. Most consistent throughout the album is Jenny Lindberg’s bass. It’s not that she’s being particularly extravagant in the funk or jazz mould, it’s just she holds the tempo well and knows where the extra notes work. In ‘Love is to Die’, a resonating bass verse shows her class, whilst her mellow sound is at the forefront on ‘Hi’ and ‘Feeling Alright’, where a dream pop sense comes into its own.
The progression from their previous work is by no means unnatural, as some fantastic songs arise from the album. The trouble is the space in between. It seems as though they’ve masked their ability with effects that indulge a little too far into the deep beyond. With time the album blossoms, but one can’t help but feel it’s unfinished.