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Good Pop music can be deceptively simple. Should be, even. For all the vagaries of fashion and technology, certain brand staples still guarantee some degree of success if they can be reproduced with feeling, and if they manage to avoid outstaying their welcome. Like a well-cast road movie, all that is needed are a few committed performances and some pretty scenery.

Ultimate Painting are not iconoclasts, and make no claims to be. They are the 'On the Road' of indie balladeers - I mean the Sam Riley-starring, golden-grainy photographed 2012 movie version. Their songs feel like romanticised storybook memories, each with its own little narrative and flavouring, although some are more successfully realised that others. On most tracks, the feeling of poignancy rides sidecar passenger to the more glorified notes. Instead of imagining a world of triumphal processions and rock and roll dreams, we get videotaped collages of rainy motorway drives. Drawing on many tropes of US New Wavers, Ultimate Painting still manages to feel distinctively English.

This is the first full album from a side project to two pretty feted acts, Veronica Falls and Mazes. The duo of James Hoare and Jack Cooper here restrict their colour palette to the few tea-stained shades familiar to late sixties / early seventies bedsits and early nineties apartments, with pointers to the Velvet Underground as much as Violent Femmes or even Nirvana (a journalistic shudder always runs through me when making such a comparison but on 'Can't You See' it's apt). Despite delivering a scent reminiscent of the lighter moments of all of these acts, they draw well back from aping the same sense of drama.

Aside from the eponymous opener, which has a jumble sale Soul charm, 'Talking Blues' is the most memorable offering. The track is a jaunty Jeffrey Lewis kind of story, describing a tourist trip around New York which will ring true to any touring musician who ever killed a day exploring the Big Apple. Included are references to the disappointing lack of any street-level Eyes Wide Shut-style debauchery, an afterthought trip to the Dakota building and meeting a surprisingly sane couple in a tiki bar. Ultimate Painting show some nifty turns of phrase here, giving the narrative a romantic kind of gawky prettiness and lumping in a litany of too-obvious rock tourist traps and the 'very English' act of writing in a notebook in public. It's also the second on-the-nose impression of Tim Burgess on a new album I've heard this month, and by far the best.

The rest of the album has trouble living up to this high water mark. The more lightweight moments ('Riverside'; 'Rolling In The Deep') are still pretty, though a little unsubstantial. 'Rolling In The Deep' is fortunately not an Adele cover. There are other similarly grey moments, but pocketed in amongst really strong fare, a little of the screwy magic rubs off.

Ultimate Painting is a charming start point for a band who show enough charm to suggest they can turn out any number of superior follow-ups. On one or two tracks, they might one day prove essential.

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