12.12.2009, Words by Charlie Jones

Exquisite Corpse

Exquisite Corpse is the debut six-track EP from (almost) all girl Californian quartet of the moment Warpaint – and they aren’t here to take any prisoners.

To date, Warpaint have achieved a lot without really stepping on anyones toes. They warmed up for Little Joy and Black Heart Procession, reached number Amoeba local artist’s chart earlier in the year by self-releasing ‘Exquisite Corpse’, and now, poised for a North American Tour, they have reissued the EP on CD and vinyl complete with a new bonus track. But they have taken their time to get where they are now – in 2004 they formed the band in LA but waited until after launching their MySpace page in 2007 to start gigging in the likes of The Viper Room and Troubadour, and now with plenty of Hollywood glitterati name checking them as their new favorite band and this EP mixed by John Frusciante their time is most certainly now.

The band comprises of Theresa Wayman on guitar, keyboards and shared dual vocal duties with guitarist Emily Kokal, and Jenny Lee Lindberg on bass and backing vocals. The role of drummer has been shifted; originally, Jenny’s sister, the actress Shannyn Sossamon, filled the slot but then left due to her busy acting schedule. The vacancy was then filled by David Orlando and now by M Quinn from the band Corridor. Often compared to the likes of the Cocteau Twins, it’s not a surprise that they have listed artists who inspire them as; Radiohead, Hall and Oates, Billy Ocean, Bone Thugs and Harmony and Fleetwood Mac.

With a sound defined by the dark and seedy underground clubs you are sure they must have played, the EP opens with Stars. Slinking in, it is full of gentle guitar riffs that wouldn’t have been out of place on ‘Disintegration’ by The Cure. This sets the scene for haunting singular female vocal and minor chords in a simple set up; voices flitter in and out and build until slowly stripped back with a deep resonating bass line. At times it evokes the dreaminess of The XX and at others the attitude of Hole, not forgetting the vocal hints of Alison Shaw from early 90’s shoegaze band Cranes – delicate yet slightly sinister at the same time.

In Elephant the vocal is at first reminiscent of Sarah Cracknell from Saint Etienne but it isn’t long until the later vocal distortions and a mid-section base line sounds like it has dropped straight out of Metallica’s seminal Enter Sandman to reveal an underlying edge with a King Crimson twist.

Billie Holiday is the stand out track of the album, strung together with beautiful harmonies and the ethereal simplicity of an acoustic guitar, it is effortless. Covering the Motown classic by Mary Wells ‘My Guy’, Warpaint turn this sunny pop song into a darker, more haunting story that’s about a beautiful yet deluded stalker who has kidnapped the object of her desire in a bid to win his love, what ever it takes.

The rough pushing harsh vocals of Beetles are a complete departure from that of previous tracks and Burgundy is full of spine-tingling chants that echoe. Ultimately finishing with Krimson, it is full of punchy baseline and with floating refrain (“I need a little room to sway…”) and slips into late 80s territory.

The official video for Stars shot by Adam Harding sums up the band and their music perfectly. Filmed at night, in a Los Angeles desert, its captivating use of reversed footage of sparklers and fire-works paints the girls like witches or animals – amid dark water and full moons they are magical and mystical and sexy and dark, everything a brilliant (almost) girl band should be.

‘Exquisite Corpse is out now

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