The Los Angeles quartet Warpaint has steadily moved from their more rock roots towards an electron-based, soft synth, dream-pop sound, and now on their fourth studio album, Radiate Like This, the transition is complete. Their first offering in six years is full of relaxed bass pulses, skittering beats, and restrained smokey soundscapes.
Emily Kokal (guitar, vocals), Jenny Lee Lindberg (bass, vocals), Stella Mozgawa (drums, vocals), and Theresa Wayman (guitar, vocals) worked with producer Sam Petts-Davies before Covid forced the album to be mostly recorded in individual isolation and that theme wafts throughout the record.
The mood is established right from the opening “Champion” as the easy-rolling modern beats, multiple synth sounds, and breathy vocals lay out the game plan as the group wistfully sings “We are all the same”. “Hips” stays in the exact same vein with synth bass and programmed beats, while “Hard To Tell” finds the group trying to “Shake off all the rules” by delivering a pretty if over-long, dreamy tune. “Like Sweetness” wants to be supportive in the isolation, reaffirming that the listener is “not alone” while remaining distant, “Melting” propels the pulsing neon 80’s glow, and “Stevie” delivers the best bass and drum work on the album.
The most complete efforts here incorporate a fuller sound as “Trouble” employs strings and pianos under the soothing layers of vocals while album highlight “Proof” ramps up the creative tension layers of swirling programmed concoctions. Acoustic-influenced outlier “Send Nudes” ends the album on an odd, creepy vibe with some sax work after a mostly homogeneous affair.
Radiate Like This floats along in the vein of 2016’s Heads Up as the former art-rockers wander in semi-aimless, sleepy pop waters. Warpaint’s dreamy vibe is pleasant, starting with the ambient-looking cover art, but it doesn’t leave any real lasting impact.