This ‘Ultimate Painting’ article was written by Joel Gehler, a GIGsoup contributor
Green Lanes, the second album from Ultimate Painting – made up of James Hoare (Veronica Falls) and Jack Cooper (Mazes) – carries on essentially where the last record left off. This is indie guitar music that’s indebted to the 60’s with obvious references to the poppier and softer sounds of The Velvet Underground, a clear Beatles influence (well, obviously) and some noticeable nods to The Beach Boys. This could easily pass off as pastiche and ultimately forgettable, yet Ultimate Painting walk the line between simple, effective, and at best stunning indie guitar records alongside the unmemorable, destined to be wallpaper music – only occasionally falling in the latter camp. At first listen Ultimate Painting’s sound seems pleasant, inoffensive and easily characterised as another indie band doing what others have done before them…a long time before them. However at a closer glance it is clear that dismissing them for these reasons is, well, unfair. There is a whole lot more going on in these songs that repeated listens will reward.
The sound is simple – a steady rhythm section that never strays from a mid-tempo plod that allows warm, clean guitars to float and drift around as they interplay. There is nothing new here, it has always been a great sound and these guys know exactly how to use it. The opener ‘Kodiak’ is the perfect example of this and it calmly welcomes you into the record. To describe the sound in the simplest form, it just sounds like summer. An obvious 21st century comparison is Real Estate, yet these songs sound even dreamier and completely effortless. The next two tracks follow in the same vein with particularly attention paid to ‘Sweet Chris’, a lovely 60’s sounding pop song.
The first real departure from this sunny sound is from one of the album’s strongest tracks, ‘The Ocean’. Although the style isn’t drastically different, gone are the sweet sun drenched chords of the first three tracks, now quickly replaced with a much darker sound. The whole song carries an uneasy atmosphere that makes it all the more intriguing. ‘Paying The Price’ stands out for the same reasons and these mood changes are placed perfectly throughout the album for when things get all too sunny.
The strength of the album lies in the first four tracks and the final three. ‘Out In The Cold’ is the clear album highlight and closes the record perfectly with a truly stunning guitar sound and all out great pop song – this perfectly showcases Ultimate Painting’s simple but effective formula in its most impressive outing yet. The record however ultimately suffers in the middle with two essentially pointless instrumentals and two tracks (Two From The Vault, I Was Lost) that sound almost too effortless and float by without anything to pull the listener in. Its only saving grace is the very Beatles-esque ‘Break The Chain’ – another album highlight.
Green Lanes frequently showcases a dreamy understated sound that come across as completely effortless and this art should not be underestimated. Unfortunately with a record only lasts 31 minutes, you just can’t get away with many duff tracks and therefore the middle section lets the album down. If a few of the tracks were cut and a few others extended (most notably ‘The Ocean’), then this would be a perfect summer album. Nonetheless when – or in Britain’s case, if – the sun comes out, Green Lanes is a more than fitting soundtrack.
‘Green Lanes’ is out now via Trouble In Mind Records