Ultimate Painting Bring Varied Dynamics and Psychedelia On ‘Dusk’ (ALBUM REVIEW)

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ultimate-painting-tim117-up-dusk-cover-final1600London-based duo Ultimate Painting have only been together since 2014 but have been pretty prolific during that time, releasing an album each year. The band is made up of Jack Cooper and James Hoare, who met when on tour together with their other bands Mazes and Veronica Falls, respectively. They share songwriting and singing duties on their albums. While their first two albums gave a nod to 70’s era Television, their third album Dusk carries a bit more of a Syd Barrett-era Pink Floyd feel. The addition on this album by drummer Melissa Rigby also helps to give a more swinging feel overall to the songs.

The first single and album opener “Bills” calls upon a steady bass line with reverb guitars creating a melody reminiscent of early Velvet Underground tunes. The lyrics though portray someone that is deep in debt “I heard them knocking at the door / About an hour I hit the floor / Peering out between the blinds / peering out between the fines.” As any aspiring musician can give testament too, this is an all too relatable subject. While many of the songs tend to lean heavily into the slower, gloomy atmospheric, “Monday Morning, Somewhere Central” lends a bit more of a cheery vibe with additional percussion and jovial vocal harmonies, sounding like it could be on a Belle & Sebastian album. “I’m Set Free” is another standout song on the album with a harmonium played gently in the background while a keyboard leads the way with a tender melody redolent of Jon Brion. The album closer “I Can’t Run Anymore” includes the closest thing to a guitar solo on the album, but it fits appropriately into the song. After a brief period of silence following the last track, there is an instrumental reprise of “Lead the Way” with a Wurlitzer filling in for the vocal harmonies.

While Dusk doesn’t stray too far away from their first two albums, Cooper and Hoare bring more atmosphere and melancholy to this release. Ultimate Painting is definitely a band that doesn’t try to create a lot of varied dynamics in their songs, however, this is an impressive album to listen to on a grey rainy day. The vocal harmonies blend seamlessly together and Rigby knows exactly where to add a little bit flair on drums to keep anything from sounding monotonous.

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Photo credit: John Sturdy

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