21 January 2014

Warpaint - Warpaint

Some bands are hip before you even get near them; Warpaint are like that for me, they adored the cover of hipster magazine and the NME, were being named dropped by people in conversations from twigs in the latest fashions, they are given to a level of attention which I cannot figure out why it is there (much like how I feel about The Strokes) - but you have to hear something to make an opinion on it, otherwise you are just making an assumption on the image along.  Hailing from Los Angeles and they have been going since 2004, this is their second release and is supposed to be a much more ambient, slow and free flowing movement to their new work.  With a quick listen to their back catalogue, I get the feeling they were very heavy on the old acoustic guitar.  Now the phrase dream pop is used a lot for indie music that sounds like it is done quietly and to a minimal soundscape; let's see if this album is worthy of the title.

After an imaginatively titled "Intro" which sort of hints at some of the pieces to come but feels like a false dawn in someways.  Mainly because it fits seamlessly into "Keep It Healthy" which has an almost drone quality, it is almost simple in delivery yet there is something working underneath this.  The drum work of Stella Mozgawa is really interesting and interlinks well with the bass work of Jenny Lee Lindberg.  But from the beginning I find the vocals to be very quite as if they are almost apologising for being on the track and taking your attention away from the music.  Lead single "Love Is To Die" has a similar problem vocal wise, they is a softness here which does not quite click, until they get to the chorus where it kicks in and makes sense. But for the most part it is a nice tune which is instantly forgotten.  Next is "Hi" which starts with the opening with the vocals being all dark, mysterious and drifty, then the music drops and then the song comes together; but again I have to come back to the vocals - there are two vocalists in this band in Emily Kokal and Theresa Wayman; both of them have good vocalist, but their voices are too weak to hold any real power.

The next song "Biggy" just proves this point again (as will the rest of the album I feel).  There is nothing wrong with it, I just feel if they had a vocalist like Natasha Khan of Bat For Lashes that this album would soar above the clouds and make my heart sing more; it is missing something and I cannot remove that feeling.  After this we have "Teese" and it starts off like the brief moments I had checked out of their earlier albums and it comes across a lot more confident, it is a very good moment and is followed by the minimal disco strut of "Disco//Very" which has the dark edges to it that are starting to perk my interest up.  Actually, "Teese" and "Disco//Very" are mirror pieces that help the album.  They give an island of style where things work on all leaves (well apart from the vocals to be honest - but you might be getting sick of me harp on about that, I know I am). Fooling is dynamic duo is "Go In" that sounds like a Gregorian chant and is the first track on the album that does not work on any level.  I found myself drifting out a lot more here, it seems just a little too distant and trying too hard to be something else, but it is dull.

"Feeling Alright" has that distant cooler touch; it could be used as the theme music for one of those adverts for a moody teen drama.  Musically again it is like a very beautiful flower and then they sing. Please stop singing, or get another vocalist.  The dark and hypnotising opening of "CC" is fantastic and then they have to bring it down with the lightest vocals ever.  It is not that they are mixed low in the tracks like Jason Newsted on "And Justice For All" (cleverly linked here), it is that they has the power of a very ill kitten to get out of bed when they start.  Same goes for the final two tracks of "Drive" and "Son"; it is the same story as the best part of this album.  This is really interesting music, not something I would go and see, but it is something I would listen to, but as soon as they open their collective mouths I feel this dull sense of horror drifting into my soul.

I have a feeling that this music would be a little dark and dull in a club (unless it was one of those hip clubs were it is hip to be seen).  Thankfully for the band they hired one of the world leading producer's Flood to work on this album and musically he makes this record bearable; but you cannot polish a turd as my colleague Chaney says, and vocally this band have two very weak vocalists who whilst complimenting each other sound too alike to make any sort of force and whilst they can hold a tune they sound too weak to make any sort of impression. I love the music of this band, all the members come together and in a minimal way to make pieces that would be a perfect light mirror to Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - "Push The Sky Away" (Cleverly linked here); but what you have is great music that is not helped by the wrong vocalists, no matter how pretty or hip they are, you cannot hide that fact.  When these guys get a strong lead, they would be world beaters, for now they are just pretenders to the hipster throne. If it was not for the music of the band and the production job of Flood, this would have been a lot lower.  File under very disappointing, hipster you have some lovely music but my deity is their vocal delivery like your sense of loyalty to a significant other - non-existent.

5 out of ten - It could have been a bit better

Top track - Teese

You can purchase the album from Amazon here

You can visit the Warpaint website here

You can listen to the album on Spotify here

Or if you’re a Deezer user, use this link

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