There is only a few days left until Warpaint release their new album, Heads Up. The Los Angeles band has enjoyed a relatively smooth rise and have not dropped a step since their inception in 2004. Emily Kokal (founder; vocals; guitar), Theresa Wayman (vocals; guitar) and Jenny Lindberg (bass; backing vocals) have been moulded and scintillating since 2009 – four previous members have passed through the ranks. In terms of making a bold start: The fact Red Hot Chili Pepper John Frusciante mixed and mastered the band’s debut E.P. (Exquisite Corpse) is an honour nobody else can claim.
That E.P. was a solid introduction, and whilst not garnering a lot of feedback and reviews; that was all to change. The first studio album, The Fall, was noted for its moments of brilliance and dark, feminine numbers. Dreamy, tormented and pulsating; swamp-like and feverish – an intoxicating, accomplished and detailed introduction that boasted enough sensuality, drama and exceptional performances to woe the hardest of critics.
The eponymous follow-up took four years to arrive. The band was keen to experiment and write with one another – the group had never developed songs from ground-level before. More low-level, acoustic and bare than their debut: Elements of standard rock and conventionality sat with whispered vocals and haunted soundscapes. More brooding, experimental and exquisite than before – another step forward for the girls. Gentler and more complex than anything previous: Signs they were adapting to demand and pushing their creativity to the limits. The third album Heads Up is their most eclectic collection and an exploration of the sounds the band grew up to – bringing in the likes of Bjork, Janet Jackson and Outkast. Less guitar-focused than previous records: Half of the songs take ideas from other areas and previous singles New Song and So Good are more dance-orientated and energised than earlier material.
Whiteout demonstrates this perfectly with its throbbing introduction; rolling pianos and a breathy vocal take the song up and look at someone who does not realise he is in their prime – they are running out of time, mind. You have to, it is said, have to do what’s best for yourself and take opportunities (whilst they are there). “I want to know the secrets in your heart” the harmonies sing – some of the most lustrous and graceful the girls have created. An intriguing and romantic edge come into a song that packs so many notes, vocal ideas and emotions into one.
Recrimination and anger come out – the lovers climbing the wall; questions become interrogation – and you get hooked on the blend of anxious lyrics and dreamy compositional notes. A balance that works perfectly and shows Heads Up will be yet another big step for the American band. Few other groups manage to remain strong and meaningful altering their sound so much. Warpaint are constantly trying to improve their game and see just where their music can go. Whiteout is a solid and nuanced song that follows on from Heads Up’s previous singles – a glistening gem from a hugely innovative group.