This is a difficult album for me to review. When talking about my favorite all-time bands, Warpaint frequently creeps in there because of just how many times I’ve listened to their first three releases – the 2009 EP Exquisite Corpse, the 2010 LP The Fool, and their 2014 self-titled LP Warpaint. I pre-ordered their 2016 LP Heads Up and thoroughly enjoyed it, though I would say it was a slight letdown from the others. That isn’t to say it was bad at all, I still love that album.
Warpaint as a whole has had a huge calming effect on me in my personal life. It’s the perfect music to put on when I’m getting stressed or annoyed. I’m sure I’ll be listening to them on an upcoming trip while I’m sitting around waiting for my flights.
I was able to listen to their first single Champion a few times before the album came out. The song feels like Warpaint for the most part, though maybe a bit more like Theresa’s solo project TT. It has their characteristic chime-y guitars and grooving bass, but it also switches up the drum dynamic to a more dance-pop beat during the verse. Overall, the song is a hit – it’s understandable why this was their first single.
The follow-up single was Stevie. This was a bit of a different song. It has an interesting melody going on, and the harmony in the background is a bit unusual. The song is gloriously soothing until the bridge hits. The bridge feels too chaotic somehow, and I’m not fond of the way the melody takes off. It resolves after, but the tension built up in the bridge throws the song off.
After hearing Stevie, I had some mild concerns over what the album would actually be. Was that really the second best track on the album? I’ve heard other albums with questionable singles before and I tend to like the deep cuts anyway. My first listen through the album left me pretty unimpressed and a little conflicted.
Songs That Stick Out
Champion is the best song on this album and it’s not very close. It will pull in some new fans and it’s sure to please long-time fans as well.
Like Sweetness is a track that plays it low and slow, but brings an energy and, well, sweetness that is pure Warpaint.
Send Nudes brings an acoustic guitar into the mix and has possibly the best melody and harmony on this album. The lyrics are funny whether they’re supposed to be or not. “Send a couple nudes, baby.” My only complaint on this track is the weird sitar sounding effect during the chorus.
Proof is a tough song for me. The song isn’t really catchy or dreamy. It sits in a weird spot of droning and the lyrics are the first time I thought “are they fucking with me?” on this album. “The proof is in the pudding” with a bit of a moaning on the “ing” in pudding is a bit too much for me.
Altar is a slight improvement over Proof, but really doesn’t bring anything to the table.
Melting continues the slow, unimpressive backend of the album. If not for Send Nudes, this album could be finishing up on 4 straight skips.
I’ve listened to the album about seven times as of now. It’s a tight playlist with only ten songs, but it still feels like some songs should’ve been left on the cutting room floor. The back half of the album is incredibly weak compared to the rest of their catalogue, and quite frankly, Hard To Tell You and Stevie aren’t impressive in the front half. If all songs were equally weighted, this album would be sitting at a four out of ten on my enjoyment level. But they’re not. The better songs on this album are really strong and bring this up a bit. The biggest disappointment I have with this album is that it has been six years since their last release and this is what came out. I’m not sure if this will knock them out of my top favorites list or not, but it does give me second thoughts on it. You have to take the entirety of the discography into account.
As always, I will note that these ratings are based entirely upon my enjoyment of the album. It doesn’t take any historic, cultural, political, or musical relevance or influence into account. That said, I give this album a six out of ten. If you’re new to Warpaint, I’d try out some of their other releases first.
You can buy the album at your favorite store or stream it from your favorite service, but do check out their official site: Warpaint Warpaint