It’s been fascinating to follow Jack Cooper’s musical arc over the course of the past decade. As one half of the duo Ultimate Painting, the UK musician distilled elements of the Velvet Underground and the Grateful Dead to create some of the best guitar-pop albums of the 2010’s. Following Ultimate Painting’s sudden demise, Cooper redirected his efforts into an understated solo LP, collaborations with Parquet Courts’ Andrew Savage, and most recently, Modern Nature.
Maintaining his prolific output, mini-album Annual marks Modern Nature’s fourth release since their debut EP in March 2019. Here, Cooper teams up with Jeff Tobias of Sunwatchers and percussionist Jim Wallis, creating a patiently pastoral sound that blooms in slow-burning splendour. Alternating between mood-setting instrumentals and more traditional songs, Annual follows the cycles of the seasons from springtime rebirth to scorching summer heat back to the stillness of winter. Jeff Tobias’s slinking sax lines flicker with the spiritual jazz beauty of Pharoah Sanders or Wayne Shorter, while the album’s whisper-soft touch resonates with an indefinable sacredness that recalls Talk Talk’s Laughing Stock—perhaps the highest compliment that can be paid to any artist for certain music fans.