Music review: Warpaint

California band Warpaint

California band Warpaint

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Los Angeles four-piece Warpaint’s dark, soupy, dreamy art-rock guitar incantations are visually presented much as you would expect them to be: low, moody lighting, not much chat between songs, a lot of long hair flipped forward towards the floor in front of fretboards during the shoegaze-y instrumental passages.

Queen’s Hall, Edinburgh ****

But there’s a subtle playfulness and fun-factor at work too, more so than ever surrounding their focused third album Heads Up, with its Daft Punk-inspired, unusually up-tempo lead single New Song. Bassist Jenny Lee Lindberg’s occasional crazy-legged dance moves on a riser at the back of the stage were testament to that.

It was interesting to observe how relatively stripped back their modus operandi is. Songs were typically based around Lindberg’s rumbling, Jah Wobble-indebted low-end parts locked with Stella Mozgawa’s syncopated drumbeats, with dual frontpersons Emily Kokal and Theresa Wayman casually draping their deft guitar and vocal melodies over the top.

Warpaint’s two, three and sometimes four-part harmonies, drenched in echo and reverb, wafted around the spaces between instruments like aural dry ice. The band presented an almost limitless array of atmospheric and arresting variations on the same, relatively repetitive theme, be it with the electro-dubby Hi, the R&B informed Whiteout, or the 4AD-Records-circa-1984 worthy Undertow.

New Song was judiciously placed second from last in the main set, lest it make much else seem terribly downbeat by comparison. The prowling groove of Disco//very and the darting, punky Krimson were excuses to show that Warpaint like to throw their hair around as much as let it hang over their guitars.

MALCOLM JACK

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