Warpaint – Heads Up Review 

The talented and capable Art Rockers from California are back with their third studio album Heads Up and with it, Warpaint are looking to ‘add maturity to their sound’ according to Jenny Lee Lindberg. It has been a sound that always adds something more and tends to be more fluctuating within the realms of the three to six minutes of their tracks. This is yet to be pulled together into a brilliant body of work, yet they are clearly a talented bunch who can produce masterful tracks, just not that masterful album just yet. The sharper focus they’ve adopted for their third studio album could be what’s required to get that truly great album they’re capable of. 

The first track from their third album is ‘New Song’ and it is another great single that makes the most of the changes to their sound. This new song has a noticeable change of tone and is in effect a smooth and coolly delivered piece of Dance Pop. The song maximises vocal samples and slick harmonies that echo out into the shifting rhythm sections and the rolling bass. The song reflects a welcome injection of energy without the band sacrificing their core sound, which remains with the atmospheric overtures enhancing the catchy features. Beyond that, it is a bold statement of intent from them. ‘Whiteout’ is a track that has a smoother feel and more gradual progression as opposed to ‘New Song’ with open bass lines and loose riffs ahead of brushed percussion. It shifts and chimes with a relaxed feel that builds to a subtle tension as the song goes on with the lax vocals nudging the song along to this end. It’s a cool and easily delivered track, but perhaps lacks much variation of tone without being good enough to stay the same throughout. ‘So Good’ is a low slung, kicked back piece of Rock leaning Pop with oscillating bass lines and crisp, prominent percussion. The song is given a greater prominence by how the guitars and electronica are brought to the fore with a raised volume compared to the other instrumentation. This gives the song immediate appeal and the vocal unisons make for a fun, but well thought out track with which the lyrical lapses can be forgiven. 

The title track reflects a new side to the groups sound for they embrace a graceful piano ballad intro and they smoothly shift sound into a close and immediate of quick rock with heavy bass lines and ringing riffs. Perhaps they don’t go far enough with the bracing piano chords of the intro as it is dropped by the end of what ends up being a solid track, but just that. ‘Don’t Wanna’ is trimmed with a dark tone from low synth chords and a lower vocal key. When coupled with tumbling percussion and heavily chiming electronica it only forces the issue. The track signals another avenue in dark electronica that the band perhaps didn’t follow through with. ‘By Your Side’ is another track that hints at this style though the disjointed and unpredictable progression of the track seems a little too obvious here and they lose the song as a result. ‘The Stall’ offers grungier base with an atmospheric edge and is one of the highlights of the album for it’s brilliant arrangement and delivery. Sadly the album doesn’t offer up enough of these moments and despite the album offering up intrigue as Warpaint often do, it always met with wondrous discoveries. It is an album of a high standard, but disappointing when you find they had all the right ideas, but did not make the most of them. We still await that great Warpaint album.

Warpaint – Heads Up = 7.5/10

Owen Riddle 

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