Warpaint - The Fool

Album cover
Indie Rock, Post-Punk, Post-Rock, Psychadelic
Rough Trade Records
Warpaint
The Fool
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For a genre that’s supposedly been dead for years now, Post-Rock still, even if slightly, feels like its withholding a few golden punches. Maybe not in the purest form, one could understand how the meandering, snail paced compositions could begin to wane once you’ve exhausted yet another swelling climax. But when presented with a document as pristine as The Fool, the debut from LA-Based quartet Warpaint, it becomes difficult to completely dismiss “post-rock” as long-deceased. Now I understand there will be plenty of valiantly dedicated God Speed and Mogwai fans who willl sit back and cringe as I sully their enigmatic genre’s coveted name. And while The Fool is most certainly more than another post-knock-off record (in fact it’s not really post rock at all), its strengths are indebted almost completely to their brilliant pacing, which is emphatically more Sigur Ros than it is Vampire Weekend. In essence, The Fool is a slow burner, one that may require more than a passing spin to completely sink in--but once it does, the record’s ethereal presence is hard to shake.

From The Fool’s onset, once the airy vocal harmonies of guitarists Emily Kokal and Theresa Wayman take control on brooding opener “Set Your Arms Down,” it becomes very apparent that there is more to this record than atmospheric menace. Acoustic strums, ominous synths, frayed guitars and soft keys populate an album seemingly bursting with hooks. Granted they may be buried under a little bit of fuzz--it does not hide the fact that these four women craft bountiful amounts of compelling melodies. From “Composure’s” gang vocals and accelerating bassline to “Bees‘” coy electronics and guitar lick all the way to album closer: delicate piano ballad “Lissie’s Heart Murmur,” Warpaint are dead-set in keeping The Fool a distinctly singular record. And considering the group (formed in 2004) may have had a reasonably long period of time to let these songs gestate, this is an expected trait. In simplest terms: The Fool very much sounds like a Warpaint record (brooding lulls of reverb; intricate vocal harmonies; solid holds in psych and post-rock.) But more importantly cements in our psyches what that assertion means in the first place.

For a group who has been popping up on multiple musical radars for years now, especially following their superb Exquisite Corpse EP from last year; The Fool was a bit of the flight-test. While Corpse’s tracks had been in concert-rotation for years, The Fool is not necessarily the same situation. Not that any of this matters once you press play, which is of course the most important aspect. Because from where I’m standing, The Fool is a challenging yet rewarding, accessible but intricate and above all else is a simple statement from a very good band: “Hey everyone; we’re Warpaint, this is our debut, please enjoy.” Oh don’t worry--we will.  

1. Set Your Arms Down
2. Warpaint
3. Undertow
4. Bees
5. Shadows
6. Composure
7. Baby
8. Majesty
9. Lissie's Heart Murmur

LA-Based all female quartet who play a heady form of post-punk mixed with psychedelic rock.

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