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Ultimate Painting
Dusk Julian Marszalek , September 29th, 2016 19:33

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. It’s hardly surprising, really, as Ultimate Painting have hit upon a formula that seems blindingly obvious: drawing from the Velvet Underground’s eponymous third album, they add in motorik beats, deceptively simple bass lines with the playing held at the root note and a meshing of tremoloed guitars with six string arpeggios. Oh, and melodies so gorgeous that they tug at the heartstrings with one hand and turn on the waterworks with the other. And while it’s a formula they work to, it never sounds formulaic.

All of this sounds fine and dandy but dig below the surface level and there lies a harsh critique of the pressures that have come to characterise life at this stage of the 21st century. Witness opener ‘Bills’, a track that pretty much sums up all that Ultimate Painting are about. Underneath that sweet melody and the sublime chord change for the chorus is a feeling of dread as bailiffs are hidden from and debts remain unpaid. Similarly, the melancholy that beats at the heart of ‘A Portrait Of Jason’ is well masked beneath pace, grace and an earworm-like ability and it’s difficult not to nod in recognition at the alienation that drives ‘Monday Morning, Somewhere Central’.

There are, of course, caveats. Somewhere around ‘Skippool Creek’ it becomes almost impossible to stop the attention wandering, and the desire to wander off for a for a cuppa and a fag without even noticing that the music is still playing is overwhelming. It happens repeatedly and unconsciously too. Consequently the mind isn’t grabbed until the final number, ‘I Can’t Run Anymore’, which means that almost a third of the album wafts innocuously by. And yet that seems to be Ultimate Painting’s M.O. – this isn’t a band designed for crashing climaxes but for something more considered. Nonetheless, taken as a whole, that’s not too bad a strike rate for a band taking incremental steps in getting better with each outing.

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