LA Waifs Seduce On Moody Debut

Warpaint
The Fool
Rough Trade

Yes, even in an enlightened age of stay-at-home dads and girls kicking ass, the notion of an all-female rock band can still ooze “novelty.” The rare sight of a few sweaty, beautiful women tearing it up on stage can be enough to loosen our standards of musicianship and creativity in the name of female empowerment. But on their first full-length album The Fool, the ladies of psych-rock outfit Warpaint dispell girl band stereotypes, crafting surreal jams without the gimmicks.

On opener “Set Your Arms Down,” the ominous buzz of an amplifier fills the void between the doomsday bass and drums, gathering slow-moving atmospheric guitars to a climactic jam. It’s difficult to escape images of the apocalypse: thunderclap beats, pulsating bass lines, eerie web-like guitar work that cascades and reverberates in the dark. And those are just the instrumentals.

Every member of Warpaint contributes to the album’s hypnotic vocal arrangements. These women are proverbial sirens, crafting songs — with their layers of soft melody — that are entrancingly seductive. And when it comes to these treacherous capabilities, they are alarmingly self-aware (on the delicate interlude “Baby,” frontwoman Emily Kokal coos, “Don’t you call anybody else baby/’Cause I’m your baby still”).

As a first LP, The Fool is quite an achievement. These nine songs exhibit an unusual amount of skill for a band getting its feet wet in an only recently revived gothic rock scene. And on standouts like single “Undertow” or the multifaceted “Composure,” Warpaint sheds all virgin insecurities, locking in its refreshingly distinctive grim sound.

Girls do kick ass after all — Warpaint happens to kick a lot of it — and we certainly don’t need a subscription to Bitch magazine to remember that. After the zeal of female empowerment recedes, and it’s once again acceptable to address your friends as “guys” without confirming some deep-set misogyny, we will appreciate an album like The Fool for what it is: A solid debut from an extremely promising rock band.  (7/10)

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