Category: Editor’s Pick

Album & EP ReviewsEditor's PickRecord Reviews

Warpaint | Heads Up

One of the albums of the year? Possibly. Kristen Sinclair delves into Warpaint’s latest LP.

It’s no secret that women have provided many of 2016’s most exciting releases so far, and Los Angeles indie rockers Warpaint are only adding to – if not topping – that list, with their latest studio LP Heads Up. The album is the band’s third release following its members working on solo projects or collaborating with other artists, including Hot Chip and Kurt Vile. Listening to Heads Up from start to finish, the quartet’s new ethos of simplicity is beautifully apparent: “[When we] agree that we’re stoked about [a new song], we’re done. That’s a lesson we’ve learned—not to overanalyse,” vocalist and guitarist Emily Kokal told NME.

Mixing of the LA ladies’ latest studio offering began as early as January this year, and they’ve never sounded fresher, or, dare it be said, cooler. As a band known for sharing singing and instrumental duties, the wonderful mélange of summery keyboards and Lindberg’s bass has the power to at once recall the likes of Unknown Mortal Orchestra and The xx, yet remain obstinately unique (as on ‘Whiteout’). Layering sonic hues that veer from a dark grind to psychedelic pop, tracks like ‘By Your Side’ fuse spacey electronic beats with Foals-esque guitar. More brooding moments recall the atmosphere of a church choir’s evocative chant, in a style reminiscent of The Cure.

The highlight of Heads Up’s brilliant tracklist comes in the form of the aptly-named lead single ‘New Song’, surely some of Warpaint’s best work. An up-tempo number with an indie pop chorus to rival anything from the mid-00s, vocals melt hazily into each other over an addictive bassline; the protagonist of the song is personified as music in a dreamy dance – “Baby, you’re a new song to me”. Similarly, ‘So Good’’s groove is irresistible, and the echoic trip-hop of ‘Dre’ perfectly displays the array of genres in the band’s record collection.

Heads Up succeeds in that in deals with introspection and pop sensibilities equally well, without veering into meaningless experimental territory. The progression of the album leans towards softer, mellower numbers near the end, with the dreamy, piano-led ‘Heads Up’. Second perhaps only to Heads Up’s lead single, ‘Teddy Dear’ is a lingering final touch, which marries rustic strumming with the intimate lyricism and vocal delivery of May Jailer-era Lana Del Rey. You can almost hear the crackle of vinyl in this haunting inversion of California dreaming. Warpaint may have made us wait two years for their junior LP, but they have certainly honed their craft in releasing their best album yet, if not of the year so far.

What do you make of ‘Heads Up’? Let us know in the comments!

image: cover artwork
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