Dusk is the third album from London-based duo Ultimate Painting, a ten song set that expands the group’s sound from their self-titled debut and their critically acclaimed sophomore effort Green Lanes, about whose tunes Pitchfork raved their “deceptively simple interplay slowly worms into your synapses...” Dusk heads along the same path, albeit in a slightly different direction, forging to new territory by heading inward.
Most groups would kill to have one talented songwriter in their ranks, but Ultimate Painting are lucky enough to be comprised of two singular voices in Jack Cooper and James Hoare. The pair’s distinctive songwriting styles began to blur a bit with Green Lanes, but on Dusk it’s hard to tell where Cooper ends & Hoare begins. Their tunes weave in & out of each other like the duo’s respective six-strings, spiraling around each other in a laconic dance. Album opener ‘Bills’ dives head-first into a crystalline pool of jangle, furthering the duo’s rep as purveyors of the Verlaine/Lloyd legacy, but despite the evident influence of American guitar pop both past & present, the group’s recorded an album that feels decidedly English. Cooper’s abstract poeticism balanced perfectly alongside Hoare’s alluring & universal pop leanings. The group’s discovered a simple lushness in Dusk’s arrangements, sometimes only with subtle additions like Hoare’s recently acquired Wurlitzer piano that drives tunes like ‘Lead The Way’ or washes underneath others like ‘Monday Morning, Somewhere Central’. They’ve tapped into the subtle grace that infects the mood and emotions experienced at times like sunrise & dusk. Hopefulness. Resignation. Ennui. A breathing in. A breathing out.
Dusk was once again recorded to tape by guitarist James Hoare in his London flat. The casual setting allowed the sessions & songs to unfold naturally, with the two of them accompanied by recent live drummer Melissa Rigby, who drums on the entirety of Dusk. Her skills lend a rhythmic elasticity to songs like ‘A Portrait of Jason’ and ‘I Can’t Run Anymore’, with jazzy undertones that break from the band’s previously unadorned 4/4 leanings. Dusk feels different and cements the group’s presence in the modern world guitar pop, finding voice in the allure of quietude.
RIYL: Nap Eyes, Luna, Yo La Tengo, Real Estate, The Clientele, Dandy Warhols, White Fence, The Beatles, The Velvet Underground