Thursday, 11 November 2010

Warpaint - 'The Fool' (Rough Trade)

As I gushed so admiringly over the West Coast lifestyle and recent musical uprising whilst discussing Best Coast, I shall try to suppress my frenzied desire to hop on a plane and head to the Californian beach whilst reviewing yet another offering from those fabled lands. Warpaint have been around, in altered forms, since around 2004 and an EP released last year ignited the blogosphere with ravings of the beautifully supernatural styling’s offered forth by the LA girl gang. Finally an album exists, titled ‘The Fool’, contradictorily named due to the audible proof here that Warpaint are far from fools and instead, have magnified, mellowed and matured.

Over half of the tracks spread out idly over five minutes yet this extensively straining sound is barely noticeable, such is the subdued ferocity that the album emits. The whole thing seeps by, filtered through layers and layers of archaic mysticism. Backing vocals embed themselves as an extra instrument, recalling choral command via spiritual rituals of old. The band drift between a Siouxsie-style gloom and a Sonic Youth growl with each passing refrain, two comparisons that still ring far from the peculiar display of euphonic whisperings on offer.

Each song title remains a short, sharp jab of similarity to the sound, in contrast to the winding, weaving, unwrapping five minute wanderings behind the name. ‘Shadows’ spins into life with the resonance of a warped record, crawling in the shade of a thick woodland cover beneath a starless eve. Opener ‘Warpaint’ strums a Joy Division throb with an unfathomably sultry vocal stride. ‘Undertow’ is a power play, with hints of seventies stoner rock and dashes of melodic indie pop combining to form an painstakingly sublime six minute ode to bitterness.

The record is as far removed from an upbeat West Coast summer record as possible, treading the line between winter and autumn, full of frosty detachment and chilly uncertainty. ‘The Fool’ is an album to curl up with in the witching hour, with a fire burning and something hallucinogenic in the air. Warpaint are four females who have pursued a sound that unites melancholy and magic, beautifully haunting and enchanting in equal measure. In doing so, they have devised one of the albums of 2010, taking some sound supposedly sensual and slicing out all of the romantic lust until you’re left with an animalistic iciness.

Words: Adam Parker

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