Recently I happened to hear the song "Billie Holiday" by Warpaint from their 2008 EP Exquisite Corpse on the radio a couple of times and it got into my head in a big way. A simple fingerpicked acoustic accompaniment to some beautiful vocal interplay between the three singers with nice harmonies going on. In its 7 minutes running time, it also incorporated a cover of Mary Wells' "My Guy", much slower and more bittersweet than the original, and with a great emotional punch in the context of "Billie Holiday".
So I watched a few clips of Warpaint on YouTube, noted they were an attractive bunch of young women, and liked their output enough to buy the deluxe edition of their first full album, 2010's The Fool: 2 cds, the first is The Fool album, 9 songs plus a bonus remix of "Shadows" and the second is the Exquisite Corpse EP, extended to 7 songs, and as their songs average around 5 minutes, its an EP that's closer in length to an album. My impression is that none of their other songs have as direct an impact as "Billie Holiday". In fact, the folkish style of Billie Holiday is not representative of their other songs. The only other song in that style is "Baby", which is rather middle-of-the-road and forgettable.
Most of their stuff is kind of psychedelic rock with elements of postpunk, sometimes the guitar and bass remind me of Siouxsie and the Banshees, I'm not sure why. The music is often instrumentally simple and repetitive, especially the guitar parts, but at its best hypnotic, and sometimes the songs have interesting dramatic arcs and moments of cathartic power. On The Fool, 6 songs have lead from Emily Kokal and 3 by Theresa Wayman, and I find the latter has a rather weak voice, never sounding like she's really cutting loose on the vocals. It's fine when she's singing harmonies or backing vocals but it's exposed when she sings lead. This is especially true on "Majesty", the most boring song on the album, with a listless melody and a mumbly, groany vocal. The lyrics are fairly banal, as well, a very earnest account of some failed relationship without any spin to mark out it from the 10 billion other earnest indies tunes about failed relationships. Emily Kokal's melodies generally have a bit more movement, and her voice is more dynamic and energetic - though not particularly technically good, either, if you think that's important.
Anyway, my opinion on this album is that Warpaint is an interesting band with a lot to offer, a lot of their songs have interesting stuff going on, and the general vibe of their music appeals to me, but "Billie Holiday" is the only one that can stop you in your tracks. The rest is still good enough to make me wonder what they'll do next and when their next album's due out, though.