Warpaint – The Fool

written by: October 6, 2010
Warpaint - The Fool album cover Release Date: October 25, 2010


Feminism is still in session.

Politics and sports all provide individual examples, but one need  look no further than music’s doorstep to see that the female DJ imbalance continues, even though sexuality is an essential ingredient in pop music. However, we can now add Warpaint to the purportedly shortening list of modern examples; four young Echo Falls women who shred their instruments have reopened old wounds.

The way they look, the clothes they wear and their celebrity friends have all made a louder noise than the music they create.

The “female Nirvana” were denied a chance of succeeding on its own merit. On the most basic level, the band’s debut album The Fool puts to rest all those misconceptions and pre-ordained facts, while diffusing the hysterical buzz that surrounds the group. Outside of the music, there is much to be cleared up (John Frusciante’s involvement, Heath Ledger’s seal of approval, the celebrity siblings) but all of this is ignored on record.

The eponymous centre-piece crests a jarring barrage of bass before a thrilling coda, alone on an album devoid of notable choruses and peaks. The biggest mistake would be to consider this ambient music. Warpaint demands your attention, but the satisfaction and understanding of The Fool comes with time.

Lead single “Undertow” is a defiantly blunt exploration of what the band is capable of, adding 110 crucial seconds to the promo edit. Lyrical ambiguity – “What’s the matter/You hurt yourself?” – spars with a brutal instrumental that is soft, yet abrasive and ultimately thrilling.

The live experience is a vital part of Warpaint’s appeal, and The Fool sticks incredibly close to this.

The sparse production lines up a few common factors: the vocal mix is endearingly off-kilter, offset against unabating bass and intricate guitar lines. During the early parts of Warpaints career, the music came from epic jam-sessions, and some of these winding compositions share that intimate, experimental feel. “Billie Holiday” finds a replacement in “Baby,” which trades in the brutal production for softer acoustic tones, emulating that hippie, singalong appeal

Toying with processed effects on “Bees” or a hypnotic piano arpeggio on album closer “Lissie’s Heart Murmur,” it is clear that there is far more in the tank.  After officially forming in 2004, they tinkered with a core group of tracks that made up the foundation of the Exquisite Corpse EP. “Stars”, “Elephants” and “Billie Holiday” are all live staples, yet the lengthy buildup to release explain their decision to include all new material.

Somehow, The Fool manages to ride out the wave of fanatical hysteria without sacrificing any of the character that made the band’s earlier material promising. Warpaint is not designed for mass consumption, nor have we ever expected the recorded output to match the band’s onstage majesty, but The Fool goes a long way in proving that this is a band who will continue to surprise. Sometimes, things don’t turn out as you would expect.