You couldn’t accuse Warpaint of short-changing fans. Their follow up to The Fool, an album which gained cult acclaim, is a self-titled effort which, while hardly surprising in its contents, is slow-going and not an immediate banker – but they never promised you the world.
This is a band which was formed in 2004 and are only now, 10 years in, releasing their second full LP. Despite that, they stick to their guns, forming songs from almost psychedelic jams. ‘Keep It Healthy’ displays those eerie, reverb-soaked vocals from Emily Kokal and has a skittering drum heart despite the wig-out going on around them. From here, though, it’s something of an assortment: half-jams, half-songs, half-high – everything is undercooked, which worked the first time around but leaves some songs on this album only half-formed.
‘Love is to Die’ is biting enough as the vocals chant “I’m not alive enough”, and “Love is to die/ Love is to not die/ Love is to dance”. It’s a mesmerising and hypnotic song, the kind they proved they were capable of before. Perfecting that strength has left holes elsewhere, though, such as on “Hi” where electronic drums feel stale and the track drags on, finishing strongly but losing your attention halfway through.
‘Teese’ is also understated, breathy and pays off at the very end with a slow, chunky bassline but feels overlong for something without much meat on it. The power and bite the band has is best displayed on ‘Disco//Very’ where the band claims “Don’t you battle/ We’ll kill you/ We’ll rip you up and tear you in two”. They sound like sultry sirens losing their minds. Here the hooky, single-picked guitars make a reappearance from the first album.
From here, however, there is little to rave about. If you close your eyes and listen in a dark room, you can appreciate they’re building something of a soundscape on tracks like ‘CC’ and ‘Drive’, but they can’t hold your attention long enough to warrant the running time.
It feels like we’re getting snapshots of a band jamming, locking into harmonies and waves of sounds, but it gets repetitive and you wonder if there is anything else in their locker. A handful of decent tracks suggest they can do it if they get a little more aggressive, but perhaps they want to stick to the relaxing, kaleidoscope psychedelic trend they have built.
The organic sounds of a piano on closing track ‘Son’ is good enough to pose the question: is an album containing a few gems worth the dour atmosphere of the rest? The answer might just about be yes. They had help from their a-list friends on their EP’s and debut; maybe they need that help again.