Green Lanes is a bustling stronghold for London’s Turkish, Kurdish, Greek and Cypriot communities, where you can find everything from wedding dresses to exotic jewellery and late night shish kebabs.
So on learning it was also the title of a new album by East London duo Ultimate Painting, I was hoping for something similarly rough-around-the-edges and eclectic. But Green Lanes the record owes a little more to the songwriting of Pavement, The Velvet Underground and The Beatles than to anything on the 6.3-mile stretch between Newington Green and Winchmore Hill.
Band members Jack Cooper and James Hoare recorded the album in the latter’s analogue home studio off Green Lanes, with the result something that could have been made at any time during the past 50 years.
Opener ‘Kodiak’ sets the tone with a melodic guitar riff that snakes around wistful vocals, and a dreamy, harmonised chorus that repeats enough times to force its way into your skull whether you like it or not. ‘Sweet Chris’ follows a similar pattern, with a straightforward melody and harmonies and a simple song structure.
Quickly, you realise there’s nothing massively original going on here, though the vocal melodies are beguiling and there’s some stellar, understated guitar work.
During the lolloping ‘(I’ve got the) Sanctioned Blues’, there’s a name-check for London Fields, but the lyrics err more towards the ethereal than tangible narratives, with ‘Woken by Noises’, a spoken blues romp reminiscent of ‘Bob Dylan’s 115th Dream’ but for insomniacs, one notable exception.
These are well-crafted songs that sound nice, and there’s little to suggest that Ultimate Painting have any greater musical ambition for the album than that. It’s the musical equivalent of comfort food – a Spaghetti Bolognese perhaps – something delicious when done well but not always a challenge for the taste buds.
Green Lanes by Ultimate Painting is published by Trouble in Mind Records