Music

Warpaint’s first album in 6 years, ‘Radiate Like This’ is a powerful return

Californian quartet, Warpaint, have released their long-awaited fourth album, Radiate Like This.

After six whole years of silence, Warpaint, an indie band from L.A., have released their 4th album – and it’s their best. For me, it’s the intimate vocals with dry and minimal production that make it an all-encompassing experience.

I hear a lot of influences but the band is its own singular voice. Perfect for today’s obsession with layered beats. There’s an evident love of 80’s ethereal and Shoegaze. Along with delicate words delivered with echo and density accompanied by synths, they become an instrument themselves – evoking Cocteau Twins‘ Elizabeth Fraser.

Radiate Like This

Warpaint’s four members have been busy living life with babies, solo projects, tours and cross country moves. As a group they wondered if they would get the band back together and luckily for every die-hard Warpaint fan out there (we see you), the gals found themselves drawn to each other.

As soon as Warpaint had completed a tracking session with Sam Petts-Davies, COVID hit and forced the foursome to separate once again.

Thanks to that pesky pandemic, Warpaint created Radiate Like This in a completely different way from their usual process. Each member recorded in make-shift home studios and passed the tracks along but the end result is utterly spectacular.

Warpaint are not short of versatility in their inspiration. They’re often compared to Siouxsie and the Banshees, Joni Mitchell and the Cocteau Twins and this versatility has only expanded since we last heard from them.

Expressing in the media release, Warpaint said: “Making this album was a labor of love. It is the joyous culmination of four musical minds over the course of a few wild and heart-opening years.” 

What those years have given us starts with the first song and lead single: Champion. The synth, full of body and clarity, is first heard with a stark beat. But the track evolves beautifully. The beat enhances in both dynamics and energy which welcomes the voice of Theresa Wayman perfectly. Her words: “I’m a notion. Breathing in and out,” blend seamlessly.

What was once a stark song to introduce the album soon becomes a thick, energetic and colourful song by its end. In many ways, this showcases the album’s unique sound in its first song. What was once distant and confrontational, becomes warm and all-encompassing.

As we weave through, Hips and Hard to Tell You, the electronic sound is at the fore. Wayman’s voice is so high in the mix, obviously intentionally – it almost overwhelming. In the best possible way. Not to mention words like “Will this heart of mine always be so restless?” feel gut-wrenchingly emotional but are beautifully pure in their delivery. As evocative as the lyrics are, their delicate melodies comfort any unease felt.

Just when you’re starting to get comfortable and floating upon a proverbial pink cloud, listening to Wayman’s almost maternal vocals on Stevie, you’re suddenly falling with the scattered bass riff of Like Sweetness.

Radiate Like This takes a darker turn from there with Warpaint’s signature eerie style that dances between trip-hop and indie-rock.

What unites the record is both Wayman’s voice but also the seductive harmonies. The density created solely by their voices is truly their sound. The guitar, beats and synths merely complement it. Even on the last song, Send Nudes, a delicate song performed on acoustic guitar, which is quite unusual for the group, the voices instantly make it undeniably Warpaint.

Unique uses of contrast or juxtaposition with the music keep the listener unsure and thus, engaged. Radiate Like This, perfect for its namesake, radiates this throughout the record. Only when we’re falling or in the dark do we see how bright the light can actually radiate.

 

Radiate Like This is out now.

Photos supplied.