WARPAINT – The Fool (Rough Trade)

I first stumbled upon Warpaint when I heard their ‘Exquisite Corpse’ EP earlier this year. I was immediately struck by the quality of the songs and the confident performance from this young, female LA four-piece. I picked up the odd free download and live track while waiting for their debut album to arrive, and each song I heard made me more impatient for the album. At last it is here, and it is everything I hoped it would be. For a start it is all new songs, as the band have made the decision not to include anything from their EP, and that also means that you can hear how they have progressed over the past nine months as they are not performing any older material. The band have actually been around for about six years, and it is strange that they have broken through in the very year that has been the rise of both girl-led groups (Best Coast, Dum Dum Girls), and solo artists like Ellie Goulding and Laura Marling. What marks Warpaint out from this list is that they are most definitely a rock band, and a great one at that. The album opens with the minimalist post-rock guitar sound of ‘Set Your Arms Down’, where the sparseness of the music complements Emily Kokal’s fragile vocals perfectly. ‘Warpaint’ (the song) beefs up the sound, which then twists and turns in such a way that you can’t tell which direction the song is going until it has arrived there before you. ‘Undertow’ was rightly chosen as the lead single from the album as it is the band at their most melodic, and with a catchy chorus that should gain them a swathe of new fans. ‘Bees’ ups the ante with a clattering explosion of sound mixed with some discordant guitars, while ‘Shadows’ brings things down sharply with an acoustic intro which quickly builds to a crescendo with some eerie staccato drumming and howling vocals. The acoustic ballad ‘Baby’ would sit easily on a Laura Marling album until you listened closely to the slightly sinister lyrics and realised that it is not quite the sweet little song that you first thought. ‘Majesty’ is another song where the twangy post-rock guitar punches through the twisted melody to create a unique sound, which when mixed with futuristic electronic effects and a yearning vocal makes for a truly ‘indie-rock’ sound in the classic sense of the term. ‘Lissie’s Heart Murmur’ ends the record with one of the band’s most straight-forward rock songs, featuring a particularly unified performance from the band on this catchy number. Ignore the press that can’t seem to get past the fact that the band is made up of FOUR GIRLS, or that they are friends with some A-list movie stars, and appreciate this album for the superb piece of indie rock that it is. And if you are at all impressed with ‘The Fool’ then seek out the ‘Exquisite Corpse’ EP and prepare to be thoroughly blown away.