Warpaint
Heads Up


4.0
excellent

Review

by wwf USER (2 Reviews)
April 12th, 2017 | 17 replies


Release Date: 2016 | Tracklist

Review Summary: You wouldn’t know it, but you’re really in your prime

Los Angeles’s Warpaint has always seemed to know what kind of band they want to be. Even their debut album, The Fool, despite its slightly shoddy production, felt like the band playing off their strengths to great effect. With the addition of Stella Mozgawa on drums, they finalized their lineup and eschewed the tonal frills that were apparent on their first EP, Exquisite Corpse whether it was the folksy sound of ‘Billie Holiday’ (complete with lyrics taken straight from Macy Wells’ ‘My Guy) or the edgy noise that was on ‘Elephants’. Ever since then, they’ve only refined their signature hazy sound, enlisting increasingly talented producers (including Nigel Godrich for sections of their self-titled Warpaint, whose credits include most every Radiohead work of the last twenty years), helping to refine their sound into something completely unique.

The opener to Heads Up, ‘Whiteout’ kicks off the album powerfully; it’s a dynamically perfect song that gives the album an immediate energy that the band only occasionally shows. The vocal performance on the song builds from front to back and dominates the track completely (showcasing Emily’s improved lead vocals right from the start) over possibly the strongest instrumental on the entire album. As always with Warpaint, the rhythm section is what makes the song shine; the interplay between the drums and the bass guitar seems effortless spirited. Two songs later, ‘New Song’ offers a similar verve, this time around with a much brighter tone and a bit more bounce, pairing a slide guitar and sampled vocals to create a veritable banger that’s ruthlessly catchy.

Unfortunately, it’s the track in between ‘Whiteout’ and ‘New Song’ that shows the only real downfall of Heads Up. On its own, there’s nothing wrong with ‘By Your Side’ whatsoever, it’s a simple little dark song that almost feels like it belongs on a James Blake record. It gains energy gradually through some excellent dissonant piano work until eventually exploding at the end, covered in a million vocal tracks that almost sound like a hornet’s nest being poked at. It’s a thoroughly dour ending to a thoroughly dour song, which makes the bright bass that pops in the beginning of ‘New Song’ almost feel like you have the album on random.

It’s an issue that persists with the rest of the album, unfortunately; the pacing and tone is frequently all over the place. The album slows down exactly when its least interesting songs roll through, with ‘Don’t Wanna’ just being dreary and static, and while ‘Don’t Let Go’ is a pleasant dreamy ballad overall, it takes a turn in the middle that’s just awkward. This sudden drop in pace before the halfway mark is made all the more frustrating since there are many, many moments on the album that are brilliant that might go unnoticed; ‘Dre’ is a beautiful song that covers a cold, damp beat with feathery vocals that feel both tender and melancholy, and ‘Heads Up’ is easily one of the tensest songs on the album. It starts with a piano introduction that almost serves as a red herring for the tight drum and bass work that breaks out of the song around a minute in; from there, the song retains an incredibly tight reign over its tone, gradually turning darker and more energetic before finishing the song off with a gang vocal chant of ‘Got to keep your mind at ease/ Got to keep your head up’. It’s genuinely a shame that by this point in the album, many listeners may have checked out four songs ago.

Overall, this album is still a Warpaint album at its core. The band’s strengths are still on full display, and they consistently find creative ways to fill their dreamy sound with just a tinge of tension and energy, whether it’s the triplet breakdown in the drums at the end of the chorus in ‘So Good’, or the cleverly edited-in second of song that’s around three minutes and twenty seconds into the title track. You can still only tell who’s singing by the quality of singing (hint: Emily hits all her notes and Theresa slurs her way through the album, sounding a bit like an alluring late-night drunken voicemail) and their sound is most likely still a bit too sleepy for some, but still, there’s solid songwriting throughout the album and while it might have issues with some of the transitions, the variety of sounds displayed on Heads Up is much appreciated.

Oh, and by the way: ‘Whiteout’ might be the best song of last year.


user ratings (69)
Chart.
3.4
great
other reviews of this album
EmailAccounts (3.5)
Here I go, deep tight flow....



Comments:Add a Comment 
wwf
April 12th 2017


5749 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Second review, something feels awkward about it right now but I'm going to go eat something and then try editing it a bit

Digging: Brockhampton - SATURATION III

Tyler.
April 12th 2017


14107 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

The other review was perfect

wwf
April 12th 2017


5749 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

the only reason I did this review was to make the other one not the default, and it's probably not even going to work lmao

Sinternet
April 12th 2017


15445 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

nice review man



only thing i would say is that you use the word 'unfortunately' twice quite close to each other

also you spend a lot of the review talking about the negatives which makes it read like a 3 maybe 3.5 best



other than that good job pos

Digging: Typhoon (USA-OR) - Offerings

Sinternet
April 12th 2017


15445 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

might have to bump this to a 4 actually, i've jammed this again quite recently

wwf
April 12th 2017


5749 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

'only thing i would say is that you use the word 'unfortunately' twice quite close to each other'



yeah I probably do, good catch



'also you spend a lot of the review talking about the negatives which makes it read like a 3 maybe 3.5 best'



yeah I actually had a shit ton of positives to say about the album that I couldn't figure out a way to put in, to the point where I put some in the conclusion lmao. this review's kind of a mess tbh

TheSpaceMan
April 12th 2017


9990 Comments


Pos, sweet idea for a review and its certainty closer to great than bad. lemme offer some advice though because you seem like a very capable writer and I do notice some issues:

theres a definite overuse of punctuation, specifically commas. it makes the sentences feel very Frankenstein esque and hard to follow. try to use more blatant and short sentences without commas inorder to anchor your ideas. it helps add variety and precision to your words. tbh this is an issue like 75% of writers on this site have so working on this fault puts you miles ahead of the game. basically commas do not equal flow like a lot of people think

secondly, the review lacks a bit of organization. its good to have a thesis statement to uphold, and a clear seque of ideas. maybe the comma issue makes this harder to notice but i felt like i was lost in a well written ramble and not an organized critique.

all that being said, I'm only offering this cause I think you should def keep reviewing. this is extremely solid for a second review and I wouldnt bother lending a hand if i didnt think you'd benefit from advice. i'm also not saying these a words from a guru so its just something to keep in your back pocket (:

wwf
April 12th 2017


5749 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Thanks dude, I feel the same way about this review. My first review had a lot more flow to it, idk I just couldn't really get what I wanted to say to flow well in this one and I got tired of editing it pretty quickly



Like damn, I even used 'overall' as the first word in the conclusion because I didn't know what else to say

butcherboy
Contributing Reviewer
April 12th 2017


6482 Comments


Got some stiff turns, but a very lovely write up nonetheless.. Have a pos.. Still need to listen to this.. Second album was a bit of a letdown..

Digging: Flux of Pink Indians - The Fucking Cunts Treat Us Like Pricks

wwf
April 12th 2017


5749 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

If you weren't huge on the S/T, this probably won't do a whole lot for you tbh

butcherboy
Contributing Reviewer
April 12th 2017


6482 Comments


If I can get a couple of good to great songs to add to their playlist, I'm a happy guy..

wwf
April 12th 2017


5749 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

that's fair

tommygun
April 12th 2017


26718 Comments


yo what's your issue with the production on the fool?

wwf
April 12th 2017


5749 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

I doesn't bother me at all and there's a charm to it, this is just way better imo

tommygun
April 12th 2017


26718 Comments


ok just wondering why you called it shoddy!

cool band and review

wwf
April 13th 2017


5749 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

haha I called it shoddier. I didn't mean it in a completely negative way

rasputin
April 15th 2017


14958 Comments


disagree completely that The Fool had 'shoddy' production, I think that album sounds great



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