Warpaint: Warpaint

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Warpaint Biggy
Video artist Chris Cunningham designed the cover art

Video artist Chris Cunningham designed the cover art

It’s not even one month into the year, but there already is a contender for the best album of 2014. And it comes in the form of a sophomore album from a band that had received critical acclaim for a solid debut four years ago.

Since the release of The Fool in 2010, Warpaint have honed the hazy, dreamy landscapes of the record for the follow-up. The self-titled  album oozes a shuffling understated charm that belies its strength. The four-piece of Jenny Lee Lindberg (vocals, bass), Emily Kokal (vocals, guitar), Theresa Wayman (vocals, guitar) and Stella Mozgawa (drums) have honed a more confident and mature sound.

The tracks retain the languid, melodic qualities of band, but they are injected with a greater sense of urgency. Glitchy guitars weave intricate rhythms over a foundation of bass and percussion that would not be out of place in a Radiohead album.

The album kicks off with Intro. At barely two minutes, this feels like a band flexing its musical muscle, hinting at what is to come. The second track, Keep It Healthy, with its complex guitar part,could almost be a cut didn’t make it on Radiohead’s In Rainbows. But Warpaint add their distinctive vocal harmonies.

Long-time Radiohead producer, Nigel Godrich, worked on two songs off the album, but he didn’t work on that track. He mixed the lead single off the album, Love Is To Die. Warpaint talked about wanting to make a “sexy” record and the single oozes sexy.

For the album, Warpaint brought in the legendary producer Flood, who has worked with everyone from U2 to PJ Harvey to Sigur Rós. The result is a polished, fuller album than their debut. There are hints of menace in the pulsating baselines of tracks like Disco/Very and Hi. The mix of bass and beats create the sort of undercurrent of unease more commonly found in the work of Massive Attack.

Warpaint loses its way towards the latter third of the album as the tracks blur into each other. There is a lack of focus in tracks like Go In and Drive, given the earlier material.

Despite these reservations, Warpaint deserves to be listened to. Like its predecessor, the record lacks a sense of immediacy. It takes a few listens but the album oozes cool, seductively slinking out of the speakers and pulling you into the orbit of Warpaint.

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