Warpaint: The Fool
The musical path taken by L.A. foursome Warpaint is well trodden -- but this kind of ultra-moody, sort of experimental, Joy Division-indebted music is usually plied by men. But Warpaint is a quartet of women, and in their hands, the mostly downbeat sounds contained on The Fool make this somewhat played-out subgenre a treat to hear. That this is the band's debut full-length is even more impressive. Not only do they sound as though they've been doing this for years, they sound as if they're inventing their own style of music.
This album soars on the strength of waves of smartly conceived multi-layered vocals that seem float around in the mix but upon closer listening are winding in and out and around each before lofting away again. And like their forbears in Joy Division, there's an understated but dialed-in rhythm section that makes much of The Fool surprisingly groovy and, more importantly, purposefully marches along with the vocal and guitar atmospherics firmly tethered.
The Fool isn't a perfect record, by any means. At 47 minutes, it starts to meander after a while and, by the end, teeters on wearing out its welcome. But as a debut record by a band that is going in its own direction while also sounding fairly accessible, it's worth checking out.
Best song: "Undertow" may be the overall most accessible track on The Fool, but opening track "Set Your Arms Down" gives you the best sense of what this band is all about.
Deja vu: Mazzy Star dresses in black instead of paisley and sings the songs of Ian Curtis.
I'd rather listen to: Right now, I can't get enough of Screaming Females' Castle Talk.
"Nothing Not New" is a yearlong project in which New Times editorial operations manager Jay Bennett, a 41-year-old music fan and musician, will listen only to music released in 2010. Each Monday through Friday, he will listen to one new record (no best ofs, reissues, or concert recordings) and write about it. Why? Because in the words of his editor, Martin Cizmar, he suffers from "aesthetic atrophy," a wasting away of one's ability to embrace new and different music as one ages. Read more about this all-too-common ailment here.