Mosaic / Reviews / October 28, 2013

Music review: A belated approach to Ducktails

It’s hard to look at Ducktails as a separate entity from Real Estate. The side project of Real Estate’s guitarist Matt Mondanile is often overlooked or worse, confused with Real Estate, but with the release of Ducktails’ third album, “The Flower Lane,” Ducktails is proving its legitimacy and identity and improving in stride.

Yes, the album was released 10 months ago to the day. However, it received so little attention and acknowledgement that it only deserves to be discussed. After 10 months of listening and ruminating, the album is just as good, dynamic and new, if not better.

“The Flower Lane” is consistent with Ducktails’ iconic and effervescent sound, and ‘Lane’ is no different from “Ducktails III: Arcade Dynamics and Ducktails,” Ducktails’ earlier projects. The swaying, mellifluous is coherent and it works. It’s worked for Ducktails in the past, and it works now.

Which is why it’s probably beneficial that Monandile has chosen to bring in a new layer to a pretty predictable album. For “Sedan Magic,” a track that walks a thin line between cutesy and nostalgic, and weird and dated, he gets the help of Cults’ Madeline Follin, and once she comes in for the chorus, the song isn’t the same. In a good way. And “Letter of Intent” is nothing without Future Shuttle’s Jessa Farkas and Big Troubles’ Ian Drennan, who bring the synthesizer-driven track into a poppy and fun territory.

Perhaps the biggest leap “Lane” takes is the one into the realm of psychedelic and technicolor. As the album progresses, it accelerates and gets better and better. It’s hazy and dizzying, and lures listeners into a blithe fantasy.

The album is like the previously released music video for “Under Cover,” the third track on the album: At first, painfully contrived, but ultimately, a hazy trip that’s addictive, whether we like it or not.

It’s not sophisticated and it’s not biting, but it works for Ducktails, and that’s why we keep coming back 10 months later.

Kate Mishkin
Kate Mishkin is a senior majoring in English literature and minoring in journalism. She started working for TKS as a freshman and subsequently served as managing editor, co-news editor and co-mosaic editor. Kate is the recipient of four awards from the Illinois College Press Association for news and feature stories and one award from the Associated Collegiate Press. She won the Theodore Hazen Kimble Prize in 2015 and 2014 and the Ida M. Tarbell Prize in Investigate Journalism in 2014. She has interned at FILTER Magazine, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and WGIL radio and the Virginian-Pilot.

Twitter: @KateMishkin

Tags:  belated big troubles cults ducktails Flower lane matt mondanile psychedelic sedan magic technicolor

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