The psychedelic all-female indie rock band, Warpaint, recently released its new album, “Heads Up”, on Sept. 23. At first, I was a little hesitant to listen with an open mind to this new album, because I hadn’t listened to Warpaint before. However, after pulling them up on Spotify, I was delightfully surprised to find Warpaint was better than I had expected. Similar to artists like Wild Beasts and Tame Impala, Warpaint expresses its edgy and obscure style to its listeners with nostalgic amusement.
Formed in Los Angeles back in 2004, Warpaint is comprised of Emily Kokal (vocals/guitar), Theresa Wayman (vocals/guitar), Jenny Lee Lindberg (bass/backing vocals) and Stella Mozgawa (drums). The band has released four studio albums since their first one debuted in 2008. Their third album veers in a pop direction, which is different than their previous post-rock sounding releases. I found their last album, called “Warpaint”, to be rather bland and unenthusiastic. Warpaint clearly improved this time around when the band vamped up its use of various instruments, especially the guitar. Beyond that, the singers were more experimental with their voices on “Heads Up”; they are more personified and successfully elicit emotions like desire and wonder.
The first song on “Heads Up”, “Whiteout,” introduces the album’s punk and kaleidoscopic influences. Like many other tracks on the album, the song grows in intensity with rapid beats, but maintains a cool, desolate tone.
“New Song,” the single that was released on Aug. 1, builds with strong enthusiasm and funky, jazzy tunes. It reminds me of the typical upbeat playlists heard in stores like Forever 21. “New Song” is the only song on “Heads Up” with a sprightly and peppy style, but it still aligns with Warpaint’s psychedelic rock style.
Unlike the previous vivacious song, “The Stall” steers “Heads Up” in an unexpected direction. This track begins with slow, mellow and dismal chords that speed up in the chorus as it repeats the lyrics, “I won’t give up on you.” Emily Kokal’s silky voice is a feature of the band’s sound that is simply breathtaking, soulful and intense.
“Above Control” is another track that contains the similar wispy, angelic singing featured in “The Stall.” “Above Control,” however, progresses with steady intensity and rhythm that releases into a mesmerizing and extraterrestrial dream-like moment. The way Warpaint plays together on “Above Control” gives me a feeling unlike any other indie rock band that I know.
The last memorable song on the album, “So Good,” is one that, although upbeat in tempo, conveys a very sensual message in the lyrics. Phrases such as “I can tell that there’s something in your eyes calling me,” and, “I want you now,” communicate the suggestive side of Warpaint’s music. Halfway through, the song suddenly slows down, then it picks up again with an impressive use of guitar that elicits heavy, sultry emotions.
Warpaint created a mysterious and obscure sound with its new album, so for fans of edgy rock styles with a hint of psychedelic influences and pop, “Heads Up” is definitely worth a listen.