Ultimate Painting - Ultimate Painting

by Steve Reynolds Rating:8 Release Date:2014-10-27

Ultimate Painting is James Hoare (Mazes) and Jack Cooper (Veronica Falls). After a spell of touring together with their respective outfits, they decided to create their own duo: a duo of intrigue, happiness, sadness and unbridled looseness.

Between them they do everything and as much as their sound may be unkindly deemed as twee, it’s really just a shiny slice of indie-pop complete with the kooky kitchen sink charm that similar bands like The Wave Pictures and Teleman brings to the table. Hoare gives Ultimate Painting his Mazes groove while Cooper offers an air of understated confidence and roomy fluidity.

The album’s title track is a cleverly upbeat piece of country cowpoke. In the same vein as Avi Buffalo, it's slightly angular and jaunty all at the same time, like when you cleanse your palate with a sorbet at a wedding reception, the equivalent of going "Ahhhh" when you smack your lips together. You’re still with me here, aren’t you?

The downtrodden, doubled-up harmonies are the real winners on ‘Can’t You See’: “Sometimes you have to let it go… Can’t you see… To hang onto your pride”. It has a gloomy, sombre outlook with gentle spiked guitar.

‘Central Park Blues’ is loose and jangly. But while there is jolity there is also its very antithesis with the Simon & Garfunkel-laced melancholy on the simply constructed ‘Riverside’, steeped in 60s analogue and minimal instrumental input. UP tell us “All I need is a compass and a canteen”.  It's a tale of loneliness and tranquillity without all the trappings of the modern world “flowing with the tide, 30 miles high, over our heads”

Their debut comes with a lot of light and shade, not just from track to track but in the songs themselves, as on  the beautiful ‘Ten Street’ with it’s off-kilter, colourful chord jams and a dark piano close. ‘Three Piers’ is quintessentially British, steeped in a love of White Album Beatles and all things Kinks and Small Faces. It’s quaint and doffs a cap to Ray Davies with its crunching guitar finale.

Ultimate Painting have defied the odds here. Mixing up a host of influences, it could have been a right balls up, a pandora’s box of epic proportions but it has a sense of steely magnetism and simple, captivating charm.

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