BY MICHAEL TOLAND
Anybody who’s seen Warpaint in action knows what a musical powerhouse the L.A. quartet is. So it’s a bit of a surprise to spin the band’s new, eponymous record and get an entirely different experience. Produced by U2/Depeche Mode/PJ Harvey co-conspirator Flood, Warpaint is an odd, atmospheric take on the group’s patented groove rock.
Arrangements seemingly arrive on a breeze, rather than through a combination of instruments, while Emily Kokal’s voice floats above, between and through the ripples like a curious ghost. Electronic sounds dominate, despite the two-guitars/bass/drums format, but this doesn’t sound like a producer imposing his will on an artist – rather the latter choosing the right studio rat to bring its ephemeral visions to life. “Disco//very” hits the dancefloor pretty hard, while “Son” dips into piano balladry and “Go In” adds a tab of acid to the Will O’ the Wisp’s tongue. Otherwise enigmatic, ethereal confections a la “Teese,” “Drive” and “Feeling Alright” rule the roost with a velvet fist.
Given the earthier sonic aesthetic of the band’s previous LP, the gauzy mist of Warpaint may be hard to accept at first, but given time, the record’s sensuality becomes clear, making it more of a next step than a radical rethink.
DOWNLOAD: “Feeling Alright,” “Teese,” “Go In”