Posted on August 5th, 2015 (2:00 pm) by Nick Manai

About halfway through “(I’ve Got The) Sanctioned Blues,” after deciding not to drive to work and realizing the train is late, Ultimate Painting take a stand against all the relentless annoyances that make life in the city a drag: “I’m like c’mon man/ You’ve made me late you know/ You really fucked me.” But it actually doesn’t feel like a refutation or an "us against them" aphorism; it's more like resigned diligence to the many surprises of the day, some of which eventually are going to actually affect your schedule. It’s this ethos, which mixes equal parts critical eye with laid-back gratitude, that permeates Ultimate Painting’s surprisingly delightful sophomore LP and turns any jagged edges or rough corners that you might bring to the record into softly focused perspective. After all you could’ve driven to work and, really, life will move on.

Ultimate Painting is mostly the product of James Hoare and Jack Cooper, two London-based guitar enthusiast, currently of Veronica Falls and Maze respectively. A collaboration between two guys with such a penchant for focusing songs around the swirl of guitar, and who are in other bands, might suggest Ultimate Painting as a kind of reprieve from studio dynamics, a chance to let some ideas breathe with more assertion. Far from it, Green Lanes is consciously economical, a distilled vision of jangly pop and laid back chord changes.

Their most immediate sound-a-like will undoubtedly be New Jersey’s Real Estate, who have been making gorgeous 3-minute pop songs that have the ability scratch themselves as deeply into your core as any punk anthem, because of their unique ability to implant you in worlds of aimless drives through green aisles and fields lit up bright. Ultimate Painting don’t quite reach the same pitch of deadened regret and sparkling, hopeful love that Real Estate conjure, but they do try to present a more wry perspective focused on modern politics (especially the ill-effects of Conservative government on the less-fortunate in their native land).

That edge shows up in the musical foundation of some of the tracks here as well, providing a slight contrast to the sunny Beatles-like grace (“Break the Chain”) and catchy poetics of the Velvet Underground’s third album (“Kodiak”). Sometimes Ultimate Painting’s twining guitars actually sound a bit more jarring than jangling, merging into the area of Parquet Courts’ brand of punk-modernism. The spoken word haunt of “I Was Lost” and the instrumental “Tee Zee Em” are ‘cool’ tracks that never approach angst, yet conjure that darker joy from the other side of the tracks.

It’s easy to think of Green Lanes as an “easy” record. One you put on, but turn away from, soaking up good vibes through the air waves without ever really narrowing your gaze. And even though it’s true really aren’t too many of the mute observations that turn a pretty tune into carnivorous aural need, there’s enough here to look through and even for that tricky commute.

Track List:

  1. Kodiak
  2. Sweet Chris
  3. (I've Got The) Sanctioned Blues
  4. The Ocean
  5. Two From The Fault
  6. The Ocean (reprise)
  7. Break The Chain
  8. I Was Lost
  9. Tee Zee Em
  10. Paying The Price
  11. Woken By Noises
  12. Out In The Cold
Ultimate Painting: Green Lanes
Purchase at: Amazon | eMusic

Our Rating

72 / 100
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