On his solo debut Jack Cooper reflects on the hometown he couldn’t wait to escape | Concert Preview | Chicago Reader

On his solo debut Jack Cooper reflects on the hometown he couldn’t wait to escape 

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click to enlarge Jack Cooper

Jack Cooper

Tsouni Cooper

Jack Cooper, best known as half of the UK guitar-pop combo Ultimate Painting, turns inward on his solo debut, Sandgrown (Trouble in Mind). The album is charming and low-key, with songs that reflect on his teen years in Blackpool, England—specifically the summers he spent working menial jobs in the seaside resort town. Observing how tourists came and went with little thought to the town’s life and experiences during its long off-seasons, Cooper conveys a sense of broken-down hopelessness with unadorned beauty. Sandgrown was recorded on a four-track tape machine, enhancing its handcrafted feel. A stripped-down combo tinkers behind Cooper on most of the nine tunes, but the focal point is his conversational delivery, which recalls Lou Reed’s most intimate, hooky tunes with the Velvet Underground. Simple guitar patterns cast spells, while Cooper’s tender voice caresses and lulls. Each song feels like a bittersweet entry in a diary the singer stumbled upon a decade after escaping his hometown to explore bigger possibilities, but rather than sounding naive, they come across as observant in an untouched, bitingly sincere fashion. Cooper’s touring band features Parquet Courts guitarist Andrew Savage, Jarvis Taveniere on bass, and Aaron Neveu on drums (the latter two both play in Woods).   v

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