Chris Cunningham’s confronting and beautiful artwork – a translucent conflation of Warpaint’s four members in lurid light – sets you up for Warpaint’s expressive intensity. Behind the desk is UK producer Flood (Nick Cave, New Order, U2), whose ability to magnify subtlety suits the record’s eerie minimalism.

The record shares emotional territory with the likes of PJ Harvey and Cat Power, but it’s less tortured and more technically-oriented. The Los Angeles four-piece exhibits proficient musicality, but nothing on Warpaint is forced on you. It doesn’t necessarily sound effortless but the four creatively involved constituents follow each other’s ebbs and flows with intuitive understanding.

Highlights include the crisp bass guitar groove of ‘Hi’, the synth-laden drift of ‘Biggy’ and the danceable Blondie-meets-The-National of ‘Disco//Very’. Elsewhere, the guitar lick in the post-chorus section of lead single ‘Love Is To Die’ resembles Jonny Greenwood’s trademark modal subversion and the intertwining vocals in ‘CC’ give off a stab of pathos akin to Cat Power. Contemplative closer ‘Son’ forgoes the experimental haze in favour of a stripped-back arrangement, which shows defiance rather than vulnerability.

Out now on Rough Trade/Inertia.

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