wears the trousers magazine

warpaint: exquisite corpse (2009)
December 17, 2009, 11:19 am
Filed under: album, review | Tags: , ,

Exquisite Corpse [reissue] ••••
Manimal Vinyl

This small album full of long players has so far proven enormously successful for the women of Warpaint. Based out of LA, they’ve generated quite a bit of buzz for a band on their first release, but rest assured, in this case the praise is warranted. Armed with moody hooks and hypnotic melodies, Warpaint seems bent on marching to the beat of their own eerily alluring drum. Originally self-distributed online early this year, and then a few months later on the iTunes store, Exquisite Corpse was recently reissued through Manimal Vinyl, complete with bonus track ‘Krimson’. The success of this second, wider release has finally garnered Warpaint some much deserved thoroughfare, including their recent deal with Rough Trade Records to release a full-length album early next year.

First formed in 2003, it took four years for Warpaint to put on their first show and another two to release any recorded material. According to Theresa Wayman, Emily Kokal and Jenny Lindberg – the three core members who make up the heart of the band – most of that time was spent methodically defining and refining their sound, making it their own. Thankfully, their detailed attention to the process paid off. Each song contains an intriguing interplay of light and dark with murky basslines and general low register contrasted by a bright plucky guitar and ethereal voices. The tracks are methodically constructed, teasing the listener along through melodic twists and turns. It’s the kind of music that seems handcrafted for restless nights or after-dark train rides.

Warpaint, in many respects, are like the older, world-worn sister of the equally hypnotic The XX. Both bands seem to exist within the same sonic spectrum, yet where The XX write from the hopeful, shy perspective of a teenage wallflower, Warpaint write from the reflective position of a newfound adulthood, of having lived through a broken heart or the loss of someone close. That’s not to say that there is a lack of lightness in the music, rather that the songs contain a deeper sense of self, of weight, of consequence. The music is rougher, less clean and refined, as though used or dusty. Guitars are allowed to get gritty, vocals to be obscured with various types of effects, and songs are given room to build slowly so that no crescendo is forced or haphazard. Yet at the same time there is a strong sense of whimsy throughout the record, with songs written about the glow-in-the-dark stick-on stars on a loved one’s ceiling and the dark and intelligent reworking of the classic song ‘My Guy’ in the form of ‘Billie Holiday’.

This play with the dualities of light and dark is at once both coy and clever, and is perhaps what makes Warpaint so alluring – and what makes each track on Exquisite Corpse better than the last. If this cheaply produced, recorded-on-a-tape-deck EP is any indicator, a full-length from them will be quite something to listen to.

Elyse Cain
UK release date: 30/10/09; www.myspace.com/worldwartour


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[…] Rough Trade Records. The wave of critical acclaim for last year’s Exquisite Corpse EP [review] will finally usher the group over to the UK in May for the first time to play a small clutch of […]

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