Warpaint makes compelling soundtrack for late nights on debut LP, 'The Fool'

Contrary to the impression given by a good number of bands from the region, it’s not always sunny in southern California: Warpaint’s songs seem to emanate from the dark hours long after night has fallen.

The Los Angeles quartet makes music at once ghostly and visceral on “The Fool” (Rough Trade), the full-length follow-up to last year’s “Exquisite Corpse” EP. The songs are slippery and sleek, spacious but contained, as if leaning against the looming shadows that press in on their flickering light.

Singer Emily Kokal’s airy voice flutters and twists through tunes that sometimes feel like fever dreams. Her vocals, soaked in reverb, float over queasy guitar on “Shadows,” and her lyrics on the chorus of “Bees” become a sort of hypnotic chant pierced by shards of guitar and anchored by rubbery bass and blustery percussion.

Not all the songs are packed so full of sound: Kokal murmurs quietly on “Baby,” supported by equally soft backing vocals and a simple acoustic guitar part, and broods over failed love on “Majesty,” backed by an elastic, effects-treated guitar and murky piano before the song revs up about halfway through.

It’s a compelling soundtrack for late nights spent in a haze of memory or vague longing, when it’s fair to wonder whether “The Fool” in question is someone else, or if it’s you.

— Text by Eric R. Danton, photo by Mia Kirby

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