Los Angeles quartet Warpaint takes its time. In 10 years, Emily Kokal, Theresa Wayman, Stella Mozgawa and Jenny Lee Lindberg have released just two full-length records and an EP. When they do turn something out, though, the time and care is notable.
Their self-titled album is mellow, but mesmerizing. Guitars alternately create atmospherics and twist haunting melodies around, while the drums and bass keep a subtle but strong beat. The vocals are never particularly forceful, ranging from ethereal to muffled Karen O yelps, veiled by reverb. It's not even always clear what's being sung, but the lyrics seem secondary.
There aren't a lot of pop hooks to be found. It's the rhythmic backbone that holds each song together, even as every song melts into the next. The album feels like one shifting mass more than a collection of individual songs. The exception is “Disco//Very,” the one moment of relatively heightened energy, and “Drive,” with strong bass pulse and submarine bleeping.
As atmospheric and mystical as Warpaint gets, it's never too hazy. The mixing from Radiohead pal Nigel Godrich lets every sound come through clearly. It sounds like every last detail was fussed over endlessly, without feeling contrived. Simply, it's beautiful.
If Warpaint wants to take its time to get something so lovely and painfully cool, fine. The wait is worth it.