Warpaint – Brighton Dome – 23rd Januaray 2013

This band are so, so so average, a musically learned friend of mine remarked to me when I told the world via Facebook I was reviewing them… I had been charmed by their music, the new Warpaint album in particular, seemingly striking a new pose, albeit one borrowing heavily from the post-punk worlds of The Cure, Siouxie and The Cocteau Twins. On record, the bass and drums strike up trancey, repetitive  grooves, while the guitar (when featured) picks interesting figures, and the vocal overlay work is unpredictable, otherworldy and often creative. The vocals (and I'm talking about the 'sound' of the vocals, not the content, which I can hardly make out) sometimes turn decent grooves into good songs, and the band try and not let things become predictable, a change of tempo, sound, drum pattern, anything, keeps it interesting, much like a decent dance track does.
 
It's a beautiful production job, and superbly arranged, perfectly palatable to the ear, and retaining the impressionistic and instinctual feel of the music. Live, and without the comforting studio production blanket, it's not so clear. The Dome's sound system has improved immeasurably over the years, adapting to the acoustics of the venue, which of course wasn't built with amplification and snare drums in mind. Tonight, it cannot cope well, the engineering is decidedly poor, and the heavy use of effects serves simply to muddy the sound. Warpaint's subtleties and atmospherics are lost in the mix, the vocals indecipherable (not that they were particularly decipherable even on record), most everything sounding like a dense mush, a coagulation of drums, keys, guitar and vocals, that despite the girls best efforts, fails to fully engage.
Jeff Hemmings