Ultimate Painting - Green Lanes
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After releasing an excellent self-titled album in 2014, the duo of James Hoare (of Veronica Falls) and Jack Cooper (of Mazes) could have gone their separate ways, thus depriving fans of smart, sneakily good guitar pop a follow-up. Fortunately, their low-key collaboration continues with 2015's Green Lanes, and it's the equal of their debut, maybe even just a touch better. Working again in Hoare's home studio with the two men trading off songwriting, singing, and lead guitar duties in democratic fashion, the album is similarly laid-back and shaggy, with tricky guitar lines snaking around the breathy vocals and drummer Neil Robinson (also of Mazes) steadily steering the songs with calm precision. Hoare's production is simple and unfussy, letting the instruments and vocals breathe while adding just enough reverb to keep it from sounding dry. A great sound with no songs is kind of a let down, so it's good that both guys seemed to have upped their game just a little.