Warpaint – Warpaint

My introduction to these L.A.-based distaff dreampoppers arrived, appropriately enough, in a dream (of sorts): collapsed on the sofa after work one evening I’d drifted off, only to gradually and groggily awaken to the radio and strains of “Undertow,” from Warpaint’s 2010 album The Fool. The song’s ethereal melody and layered vocals, anchored by an insistent rhythmic chug, stayed with me for the rest of the night and well into the following morning. It remains a playlist mainstay of mine to this day.

The band’s new Flood-produced/Nigel Godrich-mixed sophomore platter is every bit the triumphant followup, sustaining and extending its dreamlike grip upon the senses like precious few I’ve encountered of late. Warpaint – Emily Kokal, Theresa Wayman, Jenny Lee Lindberg, Stella Mozgawa – doesn’t so much craft specific songs as it stitches together soundscapes that give the impression of being tunes by virtue of impossibly rich melodies and precision vocals; think a gospel or a capella group as interpreted by, say, the Cocteau Twins. Which is not to suggest there’s some sort of amorphous exercise in precious fragility going on here. Rather, in tracks such as the thrumming/droning “Keep It Healthy,” the almost-but-not-quite electropop minimalism of “Biggy” and the subtly gothic inflections of “Feeling Alright” (which, with its vocal coos, could be deemed the stylistic successor to “Undertow”), Warpaint manages to be simultaneously wraithlike and vividly present in the most sensual way.

Kinda like a dream, in fact, the type that stays with you and leaves you feeling haunted for hours, maybe days, on end. Consumer note: if wax is your thing, then definitely spring for the limited edition 2LP of Warpaint. It comes pressed on brilliant blood-red vinyl, the group’s triangle logo etched on side four.

[Rough Trade]