In a year shaping up to be another excellent showcase of music’s finest, making an impression is becoming more and more important, especially for bands who have already released material. Fans have been waiting for over three years for the follow-up to Warpaint’s debut record The Fool, and rest assured to those who loved the band’s first album; their self-titled second album will not disappoint.
With bluntly named first track ‘intro’, Warpaint instantly begin achieving the sound they clearly aimed for. An excellent build-up of rhythmic percussion and thrumming guitar combine to create an intensity that permeates throughout almost the entire record.
Next track, ‘Keep it Healthy’ flaunts some incredibly precise and detailed guitar work that feels heavily layered and wholesome. Alongside this, the vocals are dynamic: shifting competently between tones, as well as developing some wonderful depth. Lead singer Emily Kokal really does shine brightly from the album’s start to finish, with beautifully lonesome vocals that prickle the listener’s eardrum.
The album’s lyrical composition is also impressive. In the third track ‘Love is to Die’ the use of some brilliant oxymoronic lyrics: ‘Love is to die/love is to not die’, form an atmosphere of uncertainty and confusion, which make the song ooze with dark psychological undertones. These moments of lyrical prowess consistently feeds this lurking sense of Freudian peril throughout the record: which remains such a significant element to what makes Warpaint’s music so unique.
Additionally, the pacing of almost every track is on-point, as if the quartet knows what exact time the listener desires a change in sound direction. Take for example, the shift between fifth track ‘Biggy’ and seventh track ‘Disco/Very’. The implementation of synths and electronica in ‘Biggy’ makes it an absolute joy to hear, and to me it conjures up the image of the dirty and smoky world of Blade Runner: which is awesome. Whereas ‘Disco/Very’ shakes everything up with it’s intrusive percussion and gleefully obnoxious vocals, contrasting directly with the threatening atmosphere of ‘Biggy’. However, with ‘Go in’, the album loses some of it’s steam. This instrumental track just doesn’t quite hit the mark; it sounds fairly messy and doesn’t fit well with the record’s pacing.
Another instance wherein I feel there is some poor judgement is during penultimate track ‘Drive’. This song sounds like the group could have quite happily ended the album here: the extended outro is crammed full of repetition which would finish the album on a perfect key. Yet ‘Son’ is added on instead, which to me, feels like a track that doesn’t belong at the end.
Despite these minor criticisms, Warpaint’s second album hits all the right buttons for any current fan of the band. The record’s pacing is almost perfect, the intense atmosphere is extremely impressive and the vocals are really a pleasure to listen to. For anyone new to the quartet, I still recommend this album immensely, as it really is some of the best that dark indie-rock has to offer.
Warpaint is set to be released on the 20th January by Rough Trade