[ALBUM REVIEW] WARPAINT // HEADS UP

After two years, a time that the band has described as “vital” to the development of their music, Warpaint are back with their new album ‘Heads Up’.

With this album, the quartet are really coming into their own. 2010’s ‘The Fool’ and 2014’s ‘Warpaint’ have shown a more intense, atmospheric sound. ‘Warpaint’ made it to number 2 in the UK and explored dark concepts of emotional damage with spatial exploration. Until now, Warpaint have always been so raw and emotionally driven, however they’ve clearly been taking note from the likes of Kendrick Lamar, Janet Jackson, and Outkast, as ‘Heads Up’ giving us a more relaxed, Pop-y vibe.

The lead single from the album is ‘New Song’; and rather appropriately, it reveals a new sound. With a definite dance influence, the track has an upbeat and current feel. The girls are more comfortable with experimenting now, and in some ways have matured and defined their sound. Emily Kokal told DIY: “we almost tricked ourselves into making an album really, really fast.” She adds: “We just kept making these songs, adding parts to them, and doing what we do. And pretty soon all these little ideas were an album. This process was really conducive to what music is all about; capturing a moment, and capturing creative energy.”

The second single ‘Whiteout’ was released merely days before the album came out. The vocals, as usual carry such harmony and perfectly complement each other’s tones. Theresa Wayman’s ace guitar skills really prevail, and can also be witnessed in her YouTube short ‘Guitar Power’, where she goes into depth about her biggest influences and the origins of her love for the electric guitar. Jenny Lee Lindberg’s bass carries the track and really comes through in ‘Whiteout’. Lindberg has had a busy year with the release of her own solo album “right on!” which predictably features her awesome bass skills, however, Lindberg admitted that her vocals are lacking, and we agree. ‘right on!’ lacks that spark that Warpaint as a quartet achieve so momentously.

The girls recently said that they wanted the new album to reflect the atmosphere of their live shows, which is captured well in ‘Heads Up’. The band also said how they considered splitting up after an exhausting time touring, explaining how they didn’t feel like their hearts were in it at the time. After this, the girls spent time on their own projects in order to take a break from the crazy and demanding Warpaint schedule. Jenny told Noisey: “I think it’s been nice for everybody to step aside and work on their own thing and then come together and work on stuff with us. It feels fresh; it doesn’t feel like we’re burnt out from touring. It’s nice. A fresh perspective.” She added: “I think when you know what you want more, you have more of a direction. You have the ability to execute it with more conviction. The better you get as a musician, the more experience you have.”

It’s clear that the time away from being a band has really helped the growth of their music. The album is a compelling comeback, and really shows the girls’ more fun and youthful side, whilst also revealing a more mature and developed sound. The band also brought back producer Jacob Bercovici, who pretty much mapped the way for the 2008 release, ‘Exquisite Corpse’. Nowadays, Bercovici is best known for playing bass in Julian Casablancas+The Voidz, but his role as producer on the album allowed the band to start from scratch, pathing the way in developing something fresh.

Even some of the less distinctive tracks of the album still have such class and style. From ‘Whiteout’ down to ‘Todays Dear’, each track continuously evolves into unusual shapes. ‘Above Control’ is one of the most enthralling tracks with such a nostalgic, jazz groove to it, carried by one of music’s most versatile drummers, Stella Mozgawa. Mozgawa joined the band back in 2009 after a rough time looking for a drummer when Lindberg’s actress sister Shannyn Sossamon called it quits. Mozgawa’s drums and Lindberg’s bass go hand in hand on this album, consistently complimenting each other in every track.

Overall, the integrity of this album is entirely dependent on which Warpaint you prefer. ‘Heads Up’ is definitely a more chart-friendly album, but still manages to reveal the instrumental skill and precision. I’m sure the quartet are probably aware that this new sound won’t be to everyone’s taste, but it looks like they are enjoying themselves, from start to finish.

Words by Eve Davis

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