Warpaint - The Fool

Tiffany Daniels 25/10/2010

Rating: 5/5

There's something about albums released in anticipation of Halloween. Last year Dead Man's Bones launched their debut on the world; an improvised extravaganza of macabre imagery, it was a threatening and ghoulish declaration of love. This year fellow Los Angeles residents Warpaint have crawled out of the crooked woodwork to lay their icy hands over our hearts. Debut The Fool has provoked the nation into a stupor, and rightly so. Its morbid content, set to haunting instrumentation, demonstrates a phenomenal talent.

Warpaint have a wide scope of influence, which consequently makes their music very difficult to pigeonhole. Unfounded reviews call psychedelic dream-pop, shoegaze and chill wave like they're going out of fashion, but they take a far more sinister and dark approach than any of the above gives them credit for. This is the kind of subtle elocution that won Esben & the Witch a record deal with Matador and The XX a Mercury award. Combined with their own unique and gruesome touch, it's enough to earn them a stronghold over the alternative music scene for years - so long as hype doesn't take its toll.

I'm not tooting the, “I heard them first” horn. I'll freely admit that a cover of “Ashes to Ashes” aside, the first I heard of Warpaint was tonight, sat here in my bedroom. In fact some toe-rag told me they were a screamo band, and I'd been consciously avoiding them for fear of my eardrums. That couldn't be any further from the truth - Jenny Lee Lindberg, Emily Kokal, Theresa Wayman and Stella Mozgawa don't deal in gut-wrenching howls; The Fool relies on a harrowing and overall more feminine touch to get the blood curdling.

Opener “Set Your Arms Down” puts their skills to good use; boiling over into post-rock territory, the ethereal vocal is an unsettling addition to the understated instrumentation. Just as effective is the guitar, which echoes a technique last used during the mid 1990's by bands like Radiohead. It's not a new tactic, but it's refreshing all the same. Elsewhere “Bees” introduces a reverberated call-on-call and “Composure” oozes exactly that - a mellow approach to lo-fi punk.

Lyrically, Warpaint don't underpin a profound message, they more than make up for their lack of literary direction in an astonishing explosion of style. The Fool blends celebrated genres effortlessly, and in doing so creates something that is as unprecedented as it is unpredictable. This is without a doubt a late contender for album of the year.

Release date: 25/10/2010