Wednesday, November 3rd, 2010
Review of Warpaint’s The Fool
Mia KirbyI somehow managed to see Los Angeles’ Warpaint no less than four times this year before hearing their debut album The Fool, so you could say that their live shows have coloured my impressions of their music just a touch. And that’s a good thing because as a cursory scan of past write-ups will attest, I find their performances to be swirling, mesmerising affairs anchored by the pulsing, organic rhythm section and lifted by the airy vocals and shimmering guitar lines. More often than not, it seems that the band is willing to simply surrender themselves to the musical chemistry that occurs between the four of them and let it take them where it may.
That sense of spontaneity is successfully captured on The Fool, wherein Warpaint allow the nine songs here to grow into themselves in real time. Sometimes it sounds like they’re jamming them out, other times that they’re following a meticulous blueprint, but they always come across as though they’re following their collective muse like it was magnetic north. Songs often start from a single musical element and bloom and/or sprawl through time signature shifts and clouds of reverb and delay into their sometimes amorphous but always fascinating and emotive final forms. They clearly bear the influence of ’80s 4AD dream-pop and that era’s post-punk/goth forebears, but those are evident as reflections, echoes and shadows of Warpaint’s own, distinctive creations.
The Fool is more opaque and requires more work to absorb than I’d have expected, and the relative pop conciseness of their debut EP Exquisite Corpse is missed a little. One suspects that every outtake ended up in a significantly different place than the version of the song that was selected for the album, and while it’s hard to not want to hear some of those to compare and contrast, that way lies madness. What matters is that The Fool succeeds as more than just a solid album; it also confirms Warpaint as a unique and exciting new act with an immensely deep well of ideas to draw on, hopefully for many albums to come. Maybe the debut of the year not for what it is, but what it augurs.
The Chicago Tribune talks to Sharon Van Etten about her transition from solo artist to bandleader. See her as the latter on Friday night at Lee’s Palace opening up for Junip. hour.ca also has a short chat.
Video: Kathryn Calder – “Arrow”