Warpaint, "The Fool"

54 Billboard Rating

Willowy Los Angeles art-rock group Warpaint summons a remarkably heady atmosphere on its debut album, "The Fool," which follows a buzzed-about EP released last year on Los Angeles-based indie Manimal Vinyl. On the song "Bees," guitarists Emily Kokal and Theresa Wayman layer their instruments with an appropriately swarming intensity, while slow-mo opener "Set Your Arms Down" reveals the patience with which they pursue their dream-pop groove. Elsewhere, the track "Undertow" showcases Warpaint's woozy three-part vocal harmonies, and "Composure" somehow makes room for a left-field cheerleader chant. Yet for all the top-shelf soundscaping, the group rarely devises tunes to match, circling a melody instead of nailing it or employing repetition where variety might've offered more drama, with the exception of the strikingly pretty "Baby." "I feel like a shadow," Kokal sings in the Karen O-ish "Shadows," and you can understand where she's coming from: Too much of "The Fool" feels like half-remembered approximations of stronger material.

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