Ultimate Painting - Dusk
The last Ultimate Painting record, 2015’s Green Lanes, wasn’t a million miles away from the sort of subtle, smartly-considered guitar pop that characterised James Hoare’s most recent full-length with Veronica Falls, Waiting for Something to Happen. On this follow-up, Dusk, the band have taken a left turn into murk and gloomy atmospherics, with decidedly mixed results.
Mazes’ Jack Cooper makes up the other 50% of the band, which means that between the two of them there is no lack of genuine songwriting chops. It makes it all the more frustrating – and, in places baffling – that they’ve chosen to overthink and overcook some of these tracks so thoroughly, especially given that they were cut to tape in Hoare’s home studio.
You can see what they’re going for, but it seldom comes off – too many of these tracks collapse under the atmospheric weight that the duo are trying to apply to them. Who Is Your Next Target? is sonically lush, but meanders structurally, while Monday Morning, Somewhere Central sounds like it never made it past demo form.
There are moments that genuinely thrill – languid closer I Can’t Run Anymore nails it with screeches of guitar puncturing the fog – but it doesn’t seem as if eschewing their natural penchant for melody and aiming instead for something woozy and depressive suits either of this obviously talented pair. We’ve seen more than enough spark between the two on previous efforts to know that there’s a future for them; it’s just a shame they chose to rail against their best instincts this time round.