Warpaint review - shimmering dreampop toughens up live

The Dome, Brighton
The LA band are a good proposition live, especially dynamic drummer Stella Mozgawa. Though they sound decorative, it’s not twee or wispy

Sometimes success is a puzzle: why should one band triumph, rather than another, similar sounding one? Warpaint make very pleasant dreampop records, but so do plenty of bands. Yet the California quartet are way out in front, and it’s hard to hear why. Until you see them live. Then it starts to make sense.

As a band, they’re a formidable unit. They conjure, if not a full-blown storm, then some impressively heavy weather. And unlike many dreampop acts, they have a kicking rhythm section – drummer Stella Mozgawa has surely spent a lot of time listening to Stephen Morris and Clem Burke – none of it wasted. She gives dynamism and range to Warpaint’s chiming, immersive guitars and choral echo, where many of their peers have only a flat platform for textures.

Shimmering vagueness is Warpaint’s thing, and even on stage, their music feels decorative, rather than something that tugs at your soul. This is music full of mist and fairy lights, yet it’s never twee or wispy. At different points you hear what sounds like Dot Allison rewiring Ultravox’s Vienna, the Cocteau Twins gone disco, Tame Impala attempting the Cure. All of which are fine ideas, deftly executed. I’m still not left with any Warpaint song in my head the moment they stop playing. But that’s all right. It’s lovely while it lasts.


David Bennun

The GuardianTramp

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