Warpaint decide to direct their audience literally by naming the first single from their new record "New Song". Cool: the band's slow, brooding rock ascent may or may not continue on their follow-up to 2014's self-titled effort (plus Lindberg's solo LP), but the opening single has a glitching electro-pop glare and sparkly sideways riffs. So far, so different.
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Thank God. Thank the almighty God. Ok, ok they've gone a bit more towards the dollar this time but that might not be such a bad thing seeing as though their previous records were sometimes murky and devoid of actual hooks. Those records were fine though. I had no issue with Warpaint just being a moody band that didn't really write songs. The lead track from this, their third album 'New Song' was of course a travesty and had the feel of a band having to come up with a catchy radio-friendly pop song at gun point. Luckily elsewhere things are weirder....and much better.
Opener 'Whiteout' get's it just about right. This balances of their spangling reverby guitar style with a slither of poppiness that edges you into their world without appearing desperate. There's a sense though of things being pieced together a bit rather than the organic 'band' performances of yore. However 'By Your Side' is downright evil - they turn to programmed beats and heavy dub to sound like something that would be more at home on a Massive Attack album. One of the biggest developments here has been their use of beats. On 'To The Stall' they use what sounds like live drums and programmed beats together to give their music a hint of the dance floor that pays dividends. There's also a slight funkiness to the guitars that suggests they've been listening to Tom Tom Club as well as the goth and dark atmospheres that have led them to their signature sound.
This sounds like Warpaint with a few dance floor elements and a (relatively) cheery disposition. It's a really nicely produced record - full of clear spaces but yet retaining that crucial mysterious air. What they lack in actual hooks they make up for in interesting textures but at times it drifts inconsequentially. Some tracks could do with an edit. However hat it comes across as is a band influenced by the early '80s movers and shakers such as the Slits but who aren't content with retro-ism and want to update that signature sound to encompass dub, post dub step and trip hop. The blend works nicely at times and this, to me, is a reasonably successful move forward. I've knocked a point off for the awful 'New Song' - should have been binned at birth.
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