Ultimate Painting, featuring Jack Cooper and James Hoare, have rapidly established themselves as one of the bigger indie fish, and now find themselves oddly situated: this project has comfortably eclipsed the achievements of the duo’s original bands (Mazes and Veronica Falls respectively). Following two critically-acclaimed albums in as many years – 2014’s self-titled debut and 2015’s Green Lanes – the release of a third album, Dusk, suddenly feels like Quite A Big Deal. However, on what could very well be the band’s breakthrough record, they continue to trade on the values that have won them so many fans up until now – deeply unfashionable concepts such as patience, simplicity and reliability.

To read the list of influences leveled at them in previous reviews – prime Paul McCartney, VU-era Velvet Underground, The Byrds (and isn’t there more than a hint of Fifth Dimension about that cover?) – one might assume that Ultimate Painting are merely classical revivalists. And while that might be true up to a point, there’s also a lot more at play on Dusk. Like the Velvets, there is subversion hiding beneath their placid, apparently inoffensive exterior – see the devastated lyrics and clanging guitars of ‘I Can’t Run Anymore’, and ‘Lead The Way’'s whispered invocation to "turn your back on society… lead the way into the night."

For all their masked rebellions, though, it is warmth and inclusivity that this band does best, and established fans will find plenty of both here too. Lead single ‘Bills’ rides a groove reminiscent of The American Analog Set at their most hypnotic, and ‘Monday Morning, Somewhere Central’'s sweetly rueful storytelling recalls Green Lanes highlight ‘(I’ve Got The) Sanctioned Blues’. ‘Who Is Your Next Target’ features precision-deployed backing vocals that seem specifically designed to enter your brain and never leave. Likewise, ‘A Portrait of Jason’'s chorus, hauling itself up from woozy verses, is a sparkling standout: "There’s a light on / filament, burning in the glass."

That’s not to say that Dusk is a straight re-run of the previous two records either; there are a couple of near-imperceptible tweaks of the band’s stylistic controls, enough to suggest a move towards a bolder and more rounded sound. This time, the quirk has been dialled down a notch, and the reverb is brought further forward, at times recalling Beach House, or even the hushed meanderings of Yo La Tengo’s Summer Sun era. ‘Silhouetted Shimmering’, a two-minute stunner near the album’s end, is perhaps the best example of this. And those winding, expressive lead guitar lines, running almost parallel to Hoare’s vocals (a trope that also served Cooper well with Mazes) are given more time to breathe here, lending a beguiling fluidity to what could otherwise be an overly studious exercise

Ultimate Painting’s sound is not undertaken without serious consideration; we are undoubtedly experiencing the first flush of two fine pop craftsmen. And while their sanguine restraint might not be starting any moshpits any time soon, Dusk – like its namesake – contains a multitude of quiet rewards.