The Upshot: Dancey, trancey, and chancey, awash in dreampop and postrock.
BY FRED MILLS
In late 2013, distaff indierockers Warpaint, a L.A.-based quartet, broke out of the pack with their self-titled album, a masterpiece of atmosphere and grooves. As produced by Flood, it had a sensuality hard to deny, and it wound up on more than a few year-end best-of lists. (Go HERE to read our review.) Now comes Heads Up after a lengthy delay; there have been a few “teases” here and there, including a couple of digital singles, but it’s still curious that the ladies allowed their momentum to dissipate.
Heads Up could easily pick things up right where the band left off, as it elaborates upon the Warpaint dreampop while bringing in purposeful elements of dance-pop and post-rock. There’s the moody, trancelike “By Your Side,” all thudding beats, cavernous echo, and wraithlike vocal chants, and “So Good,” which, with its Gang Of Four-meets-Pylon groove, is pure punk disco. “Heads Up” conjures images of vintage Factory Records bands, almost suggesting a female version of Joy Division. And “Today Dear” is little more than an ethereal ballad for acoustic guitar and fragile vocal, yet the addition of distant keyboard drones lends a delightful dreaminess to it.
The pop perfection and dancey allure of “New Song,” though, is what could catapult this band to the top of the charts. The first single released from the album, it sounds like Blondie when the group was starting to embrace hip-hop and disco, with the chorus as irresistible as they come. “You’re a new song/ You’re a new song, baby/ You’re a new song to me” they sing, in celebration of a fresh crush and all its giddy, accompanying endorphin rush. Look for this tune to wind up in film and on TV before the year is out.
And look for the band to be headlining larger and larger venues along the way.
Consumer Note: Increasingly, indie record labels (and the occasional major) are going the extra 100 yards for fans, not to mention the label bottom line, by offering preorder bundles boasting some noteworthy goodies. For Heads Up, Rough Trade did exactly that: if you preordered the pink/black vinyl deluxe edition and were among the first 500 punters to do so, you also got a limited edition 7” single (“No Way Out redux” b/w I’ll Start Believing”—originally offered digitally in the spring of 2015) along with a promo postcard signed by the band. It’s obvious that once in awhile, artists are able to coordinate with their labels and give the public—increasingly wary of the escalating price of vinyl new releases—value for money. Kudos to both Warpaint and Rough Trade. That said, now let’s go the extra 200 yards, and make these bundles part of the independent record shops’ offerings rather than just a mail order only thing; those stores are your lifeblood, bands and labels.
DOWNLOAD: “New Song,” “Don’t Wanna,” “By Your Side”