Review | Warpaint

Warpaint, Heads Up

Warpaint, Heads Up, Rough Trade

When they set to work on the follow up to 2014’s self-titled album, Los Angeles-based four piece, Warpaint, were out for a more back-to-basics and in-your-face record. Enlisting the production help of Jacob Bercovici, who produced their debut EP Exquisite Corpse (2009) was a natural choice.

In recent interviews, band members mentioned that after endlessly touring over the past several years, they were seriously thinking about calling it quits before ever entering the studio to record Heads Up. The impending sense of break-up plus a tight album delivery deadline both seemed to propel the impetus in the way the band approached the album and be a detriment to it. On the positive side, these factors led the band to a creative burst that captured-in-the-moment, creative energy in one go, on the negative side it results in an album that wavers up and down in terms of success.

Heads Up is a record that deals with control and the loss of it. Some tracks are tightly wound affairs, others so loose they could virtually float away in the wind. ‘Whiteout’ is reminiscent of earlier work that captured emotional malaise in a nocturnal terrarium. ‘By Your Side’ is an equally compelling creation featuring the female solidarity mantra: “got my girls/I’m not alone”, the tension builds and bubbles. By the time ‘New Song’ – Warpaint’s danciest track to date – rolls around, all seems to have righted itself.

Disappointingly, the album sags heavily in the middle. Aptly named, ‘The Stall’, meanders without going anywhere of interest. ‘So Good’, while more dynamic in its icy, post punk sensibility and Cure basslines ultimately feels like an unfinished sketch. The equally meandering ‘Don’t Wanna’ and ‘Don’t Let Go’ drift aimlessly without getting off the ground.

‘Dre’ is a breath of fresh air from the murkier melodies, arching up in divine My Bloody Valentine informed dream pop. Equally compelling title track ‘Heads Up’ is the most mature and realised offering from Warpaint to date. Deftly balancing melancholy piano with nimble bass and drums, it is also a testament to the undeniable talents of bassist Jenny Lee Lindberg and drummer Stella Mozgawa – on whom the bulk of the most substantial moments of Heads Up rests.

While the handful of strong tracks are formidable accomplishments, the greater album as a whole does not pack the essential punch to leave the listener spellbound.

Megan Beard

Check out Warpaint live at a city near you:

22 Oct Simple Things Festival Bristol, UK

23 Oct Queens Hall Edinburgh, UK

24 Oct Albert Hall Manchester, UK

26 Oct The Dome Liverpool, UK

27 Oct Roundhouse London, UK

29 Oct Pitchfork Music Festival Paris, France

30 Oct Live Musik Hall Cologne, Germany

1 Nov Astra Berlin, Germany

2 Nov Paradiso Amsterdam, Netherlands

4 Nov Iceland Airwaves Festival Reykjavik, Iceland

10 Nov Terminal West Atlanta, GA

11 Nov Revelry Room Chattanooga, TN

12 Nov 3rd & Lindsley Nashville, TN

14 Nov One Eyed Jacks New Orleans, LA

16 Nov Warehouse Live Ballroom Houston, TX

17 Nov Emo’s Austin, TX

18 Nov Trees Dallas, TX

20 Nov Corona Capital Mexico City, Mexico

21 Nov The Observatory Santa Ana, CA

22 Nov Observatory North Park San Diego, CA

1 Dec Crystal Ballroom Portland, OR

2 Dec Express Live Columbus, OH

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