BLIND TASTE TEST: Warpaint – Warpaint

Hi Sam,

Warpaint might seem a little different to my usual recommendations to you, as a lot of the music we have in common is on the slower, more emotive side. Warpaint have bags of energy. They’re also one of the tightest sounding bands I’ve had the joy to witness.

I find it hard to categorise them, but they take in elements of trip-hop, indie, dance, and funk and make it work. They build songs superbly. This will sound archaic now, but they were also the first all female guitar band I ever saw on stage and they blew my tiny mind.

Songs like ‘Keep It Healthy’, ‘Love Is To Die’, ‘Disco//very’, and ‘Feeling Alright’ are likely to stick out to you on this album, their self-titled second release. I hope they convince you to keep coming back, so that the whole thing can work its magic.

Cheers, Fran

Thanks Fran, I‘m intrigued by anything people pick for me in these Blind Taste Tests as in my pre-Picky Bs era I couldn’t have named any of the very popular Alternative/Indie adjacent bands that you’ve all been sharing with me. Fingers crossed this is another winner!

From the off even in the Intro I can hear what you mean about the energy, this is clearly a guitar band, but it’s quite low key at first. Leading straight into this opening track ‘Keep It Healthy’ this feels like my kind of thing, a bit more atmospheric than a usual guitar band with something more haunting about it than I was expecting after your intro. The vocals in particular are a lot more delicate than I expected. My instant thought? Don’t kill me for this Fran, but they sound a bit like Wolf Alice when they keep things a bit more low key.

Her voice is really similar in fact to Ellie from Wolf Alice’s which is even more obvious on ‘Love Is To Die’, which has more of a bassier tone similar to London Grammar or The XX than the more straightforward opener. I’m definitely enjoying this so far!

And then we are into more of the trip hop influence with ‘Hi’, could even compare this to Portishead with the slightly jarring vocal melody alongside the rumbling bassline. This is less my sort of thing, but I can already tell this band is pretty varied in their influences. On we go and ‘Biggy’ which does pretty much the same thing as ‘Hi’, but feels a bit less interesting to me. I’m hoping we return to the sound of the first few tracks again soon as this one is dragging!

‘Teese’ is doing exactly that, this even feels a little Lana Del Rey-ish in its ‘too cool for it’ vibe. Musically I really like the bassline on this one, but it took a little too long for it to kick in. Once it did I enjoyed it quite a lot.

Okay ‘Disco//Very’ is here to kick things back up a notch surely? I guess so, but is it just me or does this need a bit more of a punch? The hook feels a little underwhelming and every time I think it’s really going to kick in it doesn’t. Even the final flourish sounds like it’s supposed to be a proper pay off but the way the vocals are underneath everything else just doesn’t work for me. ‘Go In’ is really interesting musically, big fan of how it sounds backwards near the end, but I think I’ve misunderstood who this band is from the first few tracks.

‘Feeling Alright’ is the first moment that takes me back to that opening, atmospheric and has more bite on a first listen. You were right that I’d pick it out as a favourite on the record. The less said about ‘CC’ that follows it the better though. ‘Drive’ builds in a satisfying way, the instrumentation on the final third of that song is one of the best moments on the whole of the album so far. Then we have the middling ‘Son’ to close and like that the album is done.

I guess I’ve read far too much into you saying that Warpaint had more ‘energy’ than some of your other picks, as overall it feels like this record is just missing some edge or bite to it. Maybe it’s the low-fi nature of some of the smaller moments, or that the biggest and best moments are kept to a minimum, but this left me wanting just a bit more from it. I’ll definitely see if there’s anything else from Warpaint that I enjoy as the pieces are here for a band I’d really enjoy.

Words by Sam Atkins

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