It wasn’t fitting that the first time I saw Ultimate Painting playing, the night was gloomy and we were freezing: if anything, Ultimate Painting is joyful and warm. Jack Cooper and James Hoare, both singing and playing guitar, work very well together. I remember how I was talking with someone at their show last February at Bar le Ritz before they had started to play. I had my back turned on them, but they played their theme song, “Ultimate Painting”, I was hooked by the riff and turned around like spinning top. Even though their self-titled first album was good, I definitely think that Green Lanes is better. The vocals are better without a doubt: sharper and better executed.
A couple of songs on the new album are low tempo such as “Two From the Vault” who sporadically had a Jack Johnson vibe to it, especially when the riff kicked in. The singers’ accents (they are from London) and the fact that they both have a guitar bring a Mac Demarco feel to it when he lightly sings (think “Let Her Go”). The tail end of “Break the Chain” will remind us of The Beatles’ “In My Life”.
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“I Was Lost” is a pleasant song, but reminiscent of the songs of the first album. A slow guitar beat accompanied by Hoare and Cooper giving you a spoonful of 70’s British pop. “Paying the Price” is a gentle melody, balmier than the other tunes. When hearing “Woken By Noises”, I just see a mad James Hoare seated on his bed because he’s not able to sleep while Hooper is strumming his guitar faster and faster. The song mirrors “Central Park Blues” in its intensity.
While playing for KEXP in Seattle, Hoare explained how they are from a quiet place in London and that everything was recorded in Cooper’s bedroom. Cooper was previously in a band called Mazes who were on tour with Hoare’s band Veronica Falls. The bands are quite different as Veronica Falls’ singer is a female and Mazes’ is a male, but also because the guitar had a deeper echo than in Hoare’s band. Although their bands had different moods, Hoare and Cooper developed a relationship that carried through the crafting of their LP.
“Out In The Cold” is my favourite song of the album. Earth warming from the very first second, from the chorus to the last words. It brings the album legitimacy, proving that Ultimate Painting can really bring good music to the table and that their first album wasn’t a fluke. They’ve built a canal between Veronica Falls and Mazes, now they are swimming in it.
Ultimate Painting plays at Pop Montreal with Born Ruffians and Weaves at Sala Rossa (4848 ST Laurent) as part of POP Montreal on September 16 at 8 p.m. $17