Warpaint: Heads Up (Rough Trade) Review | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Thursday, February 29th, 2024  


Heads Up

Rough Trade

Oct 25, 2016 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

“Whiteout,” the first track from Warpaint‘s new album, starts with a simple bass-and-snare drumbeat, gradually adding a persistent guitar arpeggio, then cymbals, bass, and vocals. It quickly establishes a vibe, and then builds on it over the course of five minutes. Lyrically, the song is worried and slightly paranoid, but it matches the music so well that it seems in just five minutes Warpaint has really hit their stride. And this is important to remember, because they spend the rest of the album chasing, but not exactly achieving, this level of refinement.

Heads Up is the quartet’s third release, and it finds them trying a few new tricks, like punchy, reverb-less production and hooky melodies. “New Song,” the lead single, is more direct and catchy than Warpaint has ever been. Such moments of brilliance, though they do exist on this album, are unfortunately few and far between. For every sharp bit of writing, there’s a song that never gets more than a few feet above Warpaint’s trademark murky, psychedelic, tuneless swamp. At times the instrumental interplay is beguiling, as on bass-driven tracks like “Don’t Wanna” and the black-as-night “Dre,” but without solid, structural writing, the songs aren’t memorable. The layered sound and atmosphere of the album is thick and swirly, but it dissipates like smoke.

By the time the closer “Today Dear” rolls around, some bass-and-reverb fatigue has probably set in, but this song is here to remedy that. It’s a ramshackle acoustic ballad, and it’s gorgeous and moody, with a great sense of melody. It’s another reminder that Warpaint does in fact know how to write great songs, but perhaps they are too busy chasing a sound or a vibe. Either way, the things the band does right on this album make it worth checking out, but hopefully next time around Warpaint will be able to keep the songwriting as consistently great throughout as the beginning and ending songs. (www.warpaintwarpaint.com)

Author rating: 6/10

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