Half of LA-based indie rock group Warpaint is Emily Kokal and Theresa Wayman — lifelong friends from Eugene. Warpaint has always surrounded itself with talent: John Frusciante (Red Hot Chili Peppers) produced Warpaint’s debut EP; Nigel Godrich (Radiohead, REM) and Flood (U2, Depeche Mode) worked on the group’s second, self-titled, full-length album released Jan. 17 on Rough Trade Records.
Bringing in production talent like Godrich and Flood means the band sought a certain sound. In this way the album is successful; “Love is To Die” features a bracing tempo with electronic blips and bloops recalling Radiohead’s Kid A or Radiohead singer Thom Yorke’s side project Atoms For Peace. The album’s leadoff single is also the record’s strongest track.
With “Biggy” there’s the low, urban, nocturnal throb of trip-hop luminaries like Portishead or Massive Attack. Fans of Warpaint’s debut The Fool will recognize signature, Cure-inflected guitar work and chanting vocals — more incantation than melody. Elsewhere, like in “Hi” and “Disco//very,” Warpaint almost entirely disregards guitar work for a completely synthetic landscape.
Unfortunately, with all the focus on texture and atmosphere, Warpaint lacks memorable songs — a problem that’s plagued Warpaint from the very beginning. It tends toward aloof and cold despite aiming for an approximation of a sensual Turkish bazaar. Hopefully, with a top-10 hit in Britain and the resources to gather such an impressive supporting cast, Warpaint — and its two childhood friends from Eugene — will one day write a song worthy of their epic sound.