On The Fool, Warpaint sound surprisingly delicate, given their combative name. The L.A. group’s first full-length picks up where their debut EP Exquisite Corpse left off, serving up darkly feminine songs with instinctive structures that call to mind the explorations of Rings and Telepathe. The Fool’s songs are so impressionistic that it’s easy to hear why some have called them dream pop or shoegaze, but Warpaint’s sound isn’t so easily classified. Some songs resemble icy post-punk experiments, but cooing vocals add a push-pull quality that’s more intriguing than either element on its own. A flower child witchiness seeps into every track, most strikingly on “Majesty,” which begins as an eerie lament and then ignites into a lysergic jam complete with interstellar Rhodes keyboards and electro-toms. Each of The Fool's songs is winding and expansive, but sometimes Warpaint are so subdued that it comes across as meandering. “Set Your Arms Down” and “Composure” blur into dirges, lacking the direction the fittingly tribal “Warpaint” gives to the band’s swirl. The album’s more melodic songs reveal that Warpaint fares better as an experimental indie pop band than as an avant-garde band with hints of pop. They sound confident and engaged on “Undertow,” a beguiling song so subtle that it lives up to its name, while the sweet-yet-ominous folk balladry of “Shadows” and “Baby” suits the band’s vocals perfectly. The Fool has flashes of brilliance, but Warpaint need to play to their strengths consistently.
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AllMusic Review by Heather Phares