Ducktails //

THE FLOWER LANE (Domino)

12/20

By way of his woozy, horizontal pop project Ducktails, Real Estate’s Matthew Mondanile has been so pointedly consistent for the past few years that it comes as some surprise that The Flower Lane feels like a slightly strained exercise in genredigging. The album starts promisingly enough; Ivy Covered House is a familiar example of the hazy yearning that Mondanile has done so well in the past, all shimmering treble and laconic vocals, though the lead guitar motif does act as a subtle indicator as to the album’s direction, old tropes quickly giving way to ersatz light funk and platitudinous soft-rock sonority. That’s not to say that all is lost. A cover of Peter Gutteridge’s Planet Phrom is slight but lovely, the Daniel Lopatin/Jessa Farkas/Ian Drennan collaboration Letter of Intent is a faultless slice of Air France recalling psych pop, and Academy Avenue is a nicely understated resolution. It’s just a shame that much of the album marks something of a loss of prior artistic identity, and nothing here is as satisfying or emotionally resonant as the lo-fi warmth of tracks like Roses and Mirror Image, or even the cumulative jangle of Killing the Vibe and Mondanile’s other more conventional forays into guitar pop.

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Words: Tom Howells

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