With a name that carries certain connotations, Warpaint are not a death metal band, nor some kind of 80’s agit-punk band (imagine that, a tough-talking name taken by a bunch of girls more likely to smother you in reverb than impale you on the necks of their guitars). Such things should be clear by now. Since the release of their debut album The Fool last October, these four ladies have been a ubiquitous presence on stages worldwide and on the lips of those who’ve fallen under their spell.
There will be those who’s first introduction to the band was via their Exquisite Corpse EP, which was self-released in 2008 and then re-released worldwide in 2009. The haunting folk-tinged lament “Billie Holiday” would become Warpaint’s calling card, with the band eventually signing to Rough Trade to release their debut LP. Brief recorded history lesson over.
With The Fool nearly celebrating its one year birthday, it’s now been paired it up with Exquisite Corpse as ‘Deluxe Edition’ featuring a previously released Neon Lights remix of “Shadows” (one of the better Warpaint remixes to appear thus far) and a tweaked version of “Billie Holiday” by Pulp bassist/producer Steve Mackey. Such releases are usually extraneous, but if you didn’t pick up Exquisite Corpse the first time round, it’s an essential piece of the Warpaint puzzle and indicative of the sound they would explore and embellish on The Fool.
What Warpaint aspire to and achieve is to create a mood and use their instruments as a paddle, to creating ripples that rise and reverberate, with their sound veering from the overlapping harmonies and textured guitar interplay (“Stars”, “Undertow”) to the intensely focussed rhythm section that ducks and dives like a boxer tripping on acid (“Composure”, “Beetles”). The loose jammy structures that pervade Exquisite Corpse show Warpaint’s modus operandi and their unconventional sense of writing pop music with a dub reggae sensibility that sounds like The Cure shadowing Adrian Sherwood’s New Age Steppers. If you were to ask Warpaint how they write music, I’d be surprised if their answer was nothing more than a shrug and a “…it just happens”.
A year later and The Fool remains an inspiring and mesmerising debut release and well worth the attention brought to it. In combining there two recordings, Warpaint have drawn a neat line across the first arc of their career as we all sit back to watch what happens next.