Review: Warpaint – The Fool

Warpaint have been earmarked as one of the bands to watch in 2011. This can mean various things; perhaps they really are talented or perhaps they just have an influential PR company. Considering they began in 2004, though, releasing their first EP is surely an example of taking time or a bad case of tardiness. Using their debut album ‘The Fool’ as evidence, though, patience is most definitely rewarded.

This LA-based all-female outfit are referred to as an experimental art rock group. It’s a fair description although much of their music appears centred on the fringes of goth and post-punk music. Crucially, they also know their way around a killer hook when they need it.   Although not the best track, ‘Set Your Arms Down’ certainly sends out an eerie statement of intent. The quivering in Emily Kokal’s voice, the threatening rumble of percussion and the jangly guitars are all present and correct and indicative of what is to come. The title track is stunning as its ghostly harmonies and post-punk guitars collide in to a malestrom of intense but hypnotically beautiful noise. 

As singles go, ‘Undertow’ and ‘Shadows’ contain surprisingly spare arrangements but this only adds to their haunted brilliance. Only ‘Baby’ disappoints because it’s the one time when their “less is more” approach sounds too much like other artists; in this case take your pick from any female-led acoustic act from the last 10 years. However, the same cannot be said for ‘Lissie’s Heart Murmur’, where the group bring in piano to accompany Kokal’s most heartbreaking turn in front of the mic and remind us how special they actually are.

‘The Fool’ is a frequently startling and great record. The stark arrangements shiver and shudder their way into the body and head, creating both visceral and cerebral thrills. Looks like those media types got it right after all, then.

Web Sites:
Warpaint Official Site
Warpaint MySpace

Further Listening:
The Organ, Telepathe

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