TROUBLE IN MIND
Ultimate Painting, the guitar-driven duo of Jack Cooper and James Hoare, excel at creating concise and uncluttered songs that glow with an air of the familiar, but soon grow distinct. The apparition that looms largest in press for the band is that of The Velvet Underground’s third album—a sound, it should be said, that is practically a genre unto itself, so widespread is its influence. Ultimate Painting are working within those confines, for sure, but there is a bit of the crystalline output of classic Flying Nun band The Chills (the recent reissue of Kaleidoscope World might be a great counter-listen to Dusk) and other antipodean hitmakers in their deceptively simple chord arrangements.
Wielding a twin-guitar attack with a dexterous fury that recalls Jailbreak-era Thin Lizzy…alright, just kidding on that one. But Cooper and Hoare do braid their two guitars together with great artistry. If you just glanced at the cover—dark purple, our mod-ish heroes half-shadowed with lustrous fringe—you’d think the band had gone full Electric Prunes, but Dusk, as an album, is hardly a psych revision of the sound they established over their first two albums. The word I keep coming to is “clean”: cleanly woven melodies (Cooper and Hoare are well-locked into the guitar-pop group-think on tracks like “Bills” and “Monday Morning, Somewhere Central”) and fuzz-free (although the addition of Wurlitzer adds some murky, welcome textures). Some of the metronomic moments make the album feel like a cousin to the ’90s dream/post-rock pop of The American Analog Set or The Sea and Cake circa their 1994 debut, but in the end, Dusk is its own poetic and fitfully abstract beast.