Warpaint might have painted themselves into a corner with their second album. Blurred songs, atmospheric but difficult to cling to, were often beautiful but sometimes hard to love. Tired from touring, the LA quartet nearly split up.
With a third release, last year’s Heads Up, they brightened the décor. At Somerset House coloured lights glimmered during New Song, unimaginatively titled but with its pulsing beats and hummable chorus, indicative of an appealing new band outlook.
Other new songs such as Above Control, led by Jenny Lee Lindberg’s high, skipping bassline, offered useful changes of pace in the quest to wrest audience attention from the venue’s grand architecture for a full 90 minutes. Emily Kokal and Theresa Wayman’s guitars and voices weaved around each other, dense and fluid, with both women enjoying opportunities to put down their instruments and engage in some wild dancing.
The square courtyard, domed stage and a stiff breeze made for some marvellous billowing smoke effects as instruments were attacked and hair was thrashed. Drummer Stella Mozgawa, less dominant among the layered guitars on record, was watchably audacious here.
Wayman’s stream of consciousness lines on jerky, ever-changing early song Beetles showed the band’s strangest side. With the steady bass groove and wordless chorus of So Good, they were as uncomplicated as they get – still a long way from the bright lights of pop music, but untangling some knots and finding a way to creep out of the darkness.