Release Date: Sep 30, 2016
Record label: Trouble in Mind
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock
You could describe Jack Cooper and James Hoare as reticent. Evasive even. Their third album begins with them hiding from would-be debt collectors, peaking through the blinds, and ends with a track called I Can’t Run Any More. The sound is important. It’s a mix that blends its influences into a ….
Ultimate Painting is a very simpatico collaboration between James Hoare of Veronica Falls and Jack Cooper of Mazes. The two guitarists met while their groups were touring and decided to get together to make some resolutely analog music. Sometimes when people work apart from their main bands, they decide to try out new things. Not so much in this case.
There are several adjectives thrown at the eclectic and vast sphere that is London indie bands; few are printable in such a respectable publication as this and "dependable" is rarely one of them. However (you can see where this is going) it is the one that springs to mind when considering the merits of Ultimate Painting. .
“All I need is a peace of mind/ Looking for a place to hide/ Run away and close my eyes” sing Londoners Jack Cooper and James Hoare, aka Ultimate Painting, on ‘I’m Set Free’, a track from their latest LP ‘Dusk’. True to its title, hesitant early evening hues are reflected in this record’s musical and lyrical content. It is a hushed, delicate affair recorded in Hoare’s flat with the help of drummer Melissa Rigby.
The last Ultimate Painting record, 2015’s Green Lanes, wasn’t a million miles away from the sort of subtle, smartly-considered guitar pop that characterised James Hoare’s most recent full-length with Veronica Falls, Waiting for Something to Happen. On this follow-up, Dusk, the band have taken a left turn into murk and gloomy atmospherics, with decidedly mixed results. Mazes’ Jack Cooper makes up the other 50% of the band, which means that between the two of them there is no lack of genuine songwriting chops.
It's always worth taking a second, closer look because first appearances are frequently deceptive. After all, who’d have thought that Boris Johnson had hitched his horse to the Brexit bandwagon in attempt to get into Number 10? Or that Theo Walcott had actually spent all this time convincing people he was shit when in reality he’d simply been biding his time to unleash the beast within? Ergo Dusk, the third outing from Ultimate Painting, which, after several listens reveals itself to be a sugar coated pill with much bitterness at its core. Based around the core of Jack Cooper and James Hoare of indie stalwarts Mazes and Veronica Falls respectively, Ultimate Painting have come to eclipse the bands from whence they came.
A new album from Ultimate Painting is now more or less officially a fall tradition, and Dusk’s aura is appropriately autumnal. James Hoare and Jack Cooper must be finishing each other’s sentences by this point. Whether they’re reflecting on wayward friends and noisy neighbors, or it’s city parks and rough commutes that are giving them the blues, their simpatico wavelengths are such that the pair never needs to raise their voices or blood pressure too much.
Ultimate Painting, featuring Jack Cooper and James Hoare, have rapidly established themselves as one of the bigger indie fish, and now find themselves oddly situated: this project has comfortably eclipsed the achievements of the duo’s original bands (Mazes and Veronica Falls respectively). Following two critically-acclaimed albums in as many years – 2014’s self-titled debut and 2015’s Green Lanes – the release of a third album, Dusk, suddenly feels like Quite A Big Deal. However, on what could very well be the band’s breakthrough record, they continue to trade on the values that have won them so many fans up until now – deeply unfashionable concepts such as patience, simplicity and reliability.
Ultimate Painting — Dusk (Trouble in Mind)For their third full-length, Ultimate Painting’s Jack Cooper and James Hoare burnish their sound to a glossy sheen, downplaying the frictive rhythms and submerged conflict of last year’s Green Lanes for a wholly relaxed, day-dreamy meander. Songs fit together with exquisite precision, the two guitars carving pretty patterns lit by dusty, late-afternoon light, the vocal melodies drifting in unhurried murmurs from measure to measure. The underlying complications, which I called out at Dusted last year when I called Green Lanes, “Soothing but subversive [and] never quite as easy as it seems” have dissolved like sugar in warm tea.
Despite a jam-packed September, I can't help noticing how Carl and I ended up a little bit underwhelmed with many of the albums we reviewed this month. But since both of us got to cover most of our favorites on full-length form, it only makes sense this month's choices are mostly solid, but ….