Music: The Fool by Warpaint * * * *
All summer, there has been considerable fanfare over the Los Angeles all-female four-piece Warpaint. US aggregator website The Hype Machine suggests that the band is among the most keenly tipped by the world's leading blogging taste-makers.
And it's not difficult to see why -- this is an art-rock outfit who have arrived on indie firmament seemingly fully formed. That the ladies are easy on the eye won't do their cause any harm either.
But they are not quite the overnight sensations they might appear. There have been frequent changes of line-up -- Hollywood actress Shannyn Sossamon was once a member -- and the finalised quartet have taken their time to bed down. But this debut album suggests that they have well and truly hit their stride.
Embracing a wide range of influences -- from post-rock wig-outs to gentle country and dream pop -- they somehow manage not to sound disjointed. In fact, this is an album in the old-fashioned sense -- great thought has been given to the sequence in which the songs appear, and the resulting collection ebbs and flows wonderfully.
It helps that Andrew Weatherall, who made his name with Primal Scream, has mixed the sound so impressively, while the original first lady of punk, Siouxsie Sioux, was also on hand to assist the band with their more potent arrangements.
The pair lend a certain magic to the bittersweet Undertow, with its hazy guitars and spaced-out vocals, and even when the band get conventional, such as on the acoustic-driven ballad Baby, there's an otherworldly quality about them that's difficult to put the finger on. The latter, incidentally, is a beautiful composition, which reminds me of underrated Canadian singer-songwriter Kathleen Edwards.
There's a druggy vibe to proceedings, too, not least on the marvellous Lissie's Heart Murmur, and it doesn't surprise me at all that the band have suggested that the album was written with stoners in mind.
But you don't need dope to help you appreciate the subtle yet intoxicating songs here. This fine band will get under your skin, given the chance.
Burn it: Undertow; Baby