We know one thing looking at Warpaint’s album cover: These females aren’t trying to win the crowd solely on good looks. It’s a hard-core image. A painted red skull emerges from what’s either hardened lava or a jewel-encrusted rock. Somewhere a retro ‘80s metal band is sobbing over a bottle of Jack Daniels wishing it was theirs.
From Silverlake, Los Angeles, California, Warpaint comprises guitarist/vocalist Emily Kokal, guitarist/vocalist Theresa Wayman, bassist/vocalist Jenny Lee Lindberg and drummer/keyboardist Stella Mozgawa. Chiseling their musical style since 2004, they’ve released their full-length debut. The Fool is a dark and moody album full of heavy rhythms and electronic effects with vocal melodies emanating from the outer rings of your mind.
The rhythm section of Stella and Jenny drives Warpaint’s music. One of modern rock’s best drummers, Stella quickly maneuvers around her drumkit with a pair of stone hands. Jenny is like an extra guitarist. Combined, they generate a lot of movement in the music. Their frenzied beats pump out hard rock thump on the song “Warpaint.” “Composure” is danceable to the point of being tribal.
Both guitarists supply hypnotic single-note guitar parts. Soaked in echo, chorus and vibrato, the guitars sound eerie. The massively detuned intro of “Shadows” adds the right amount of dissonance to a song about feeling out of place after a breakup. The Fool is well- produced with all the instruments having a warm rich tone, especially the guitars.
Main singers Emily and Theresa don’t write out pages of lyrics. They find expressive ways of singing, such as sounding spacey and trance-like. Gargling out the words in “Lissie’s Heart Murmur” helps compare romantic obsession to drowning. Emily’s rhythmic chanting about a lover’s touch on “Composure” is practically orgasmic.
Warpaint demonstrate their musical chops, but the record lulls towards the end. Songs slightly blur together possibly due to pacing. Aside from “Composure,” the album snakes from track-to-track slow and pensively. Each one does gradually arch up in volume and tempo, but it always slides back down. The girls forget to bump up some tracks with more instrumental sections. “Majesty” screams for a guitar solo. That said their beats already hook crowds in at live shows. I’m definitely interested to hear how they build upon their sound.