Album Review: Warpaint – Heads Up
Harriet Cheney checks out Warpaint’s new offering.
At first I wasn’t sure about this album. I’m a massive Warpaint fan and although I could hear their sensual bass, clean guitar riffs and dreamy vocals, I felt like they’d taken a poppy commercial turn and infused a bit more electronic influence than I was comfortable with.
But with a few more listens I realised that the Warpaint that I know and love are still well and truly in tact, and despite experimenting with some new genres, their hypnotic, vulnerable and sexy allure comes through as strong as ever.
It’s the third full-length album from the babe’n four-piece and after a very dreamy (almost directionless) second album, the new body of work has a strong narrative, start to finish, and sees the band return to their fiercer psych rock early days (but with the extra dimension of some synth beats and samples).
The opening track starts with a killer syncopated beat before the characteristic guitar enters, quickly followed by punchy vocals (with harmonies). It’s got attitude and pulses along in a laid back Warpaint sort of way.
The second track “ByYourSide” is one of the album highlights – the cello sample the sits below the bass creates a really interesting art rock, electronic fusion that is begging to be remixed. The repetition of the lyrics “now I know I’m not alone, got my girls I’m not alone” makes it a very subtle girl power anthem, which works pretty well for Warpaint’s particular brand of feminism.
Then we get to “New Song” which sounds more like La Roux and The Chromatics had a song baby than the Warpaint of old. It undoubtedly has commercial appeal and one can’t help feel that that was the point of including it. It’s catchy, but lacks the complexity and intrigue of the rest of the album.
Just like a live gig, where it take three songs for the band to hit their stride, by track four Warpaint are well and truly in the groove and the rest of the album is a dream of driving bass, lush vocals and beautifully contrasting moments of light and shade.
They venture into funk territory on “So Good”, down-and-dirty electro on “Don’t Wanna” (all that bass), the psych rock that they do so well on “Don’t Let Go” and insist “letting go’s not giving in” on the beautifully balanced and hypnotic “Above Control”.
The title track “Heads Up” reflects the album’s philosophy more than its feeling, as it not a highlight or representative of the sound of the album in full.
The wonderful ease that comes through on every track that the band play, showcases the unity of the band members, a magic synergy that a select few groups are fortunate enough to form after playing together for such a long time – they appear to communicate with each other more clearly through music than words.
This connection makes them a great band to see live. They vibe off each other and let the gig unravel the way it’s supposed to.
The final track on the album, ‘Today Dear’, is an ode to albums past – fragile and honest and a beautiful reminder that wherever they go they remember where they’ve come from.
Review by Harriet Cheney.