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Album Review

One would be hard-pressed to call Ducktails' self-titled full-length a "debut," given Matthew Mondanile's eight previous releases in 2007 and 2008 on cassette, 7", and LP. But the eponymous album is also Mondanile's proper coming out. Consolidating songs and ideas that he refined over his earlier one-man band output, Ducktails refines Mondanile's lo-fi beach pop (mostly) instrumentals into a pleasant mix of woozy structures and impossibly distant choruses ("Dancing with the One You Love"), pinched-voice indie rock ("The Mall"), and an 11-minute drone-out ("Surf's Up") that captures the best of Mondanile's cassette-obsessed aesthetic. (He has said that he only records on tape.) While the songs themselves aren't exactly hook-filled ("The Mall" recalls the sloppy Neil Young-influenced pop of Mondanile's occasional Brooklyn tourmates, Woods), and don't entirely stack up to Real Estate, the Martin Courtney-led quartet in which Mondanile plays lead guitar, that's not the point, either. Ducktails' vibe is nearly impeccable. Regardless of musical development — Mondanile's willfully lo-fi and hiss-filled approach leaves much room for development and growth — his summer town imagery (other titles include "Pizza Time," "Beach Point Pleasant," and "Daily Vacation") combined with his nostalgic palette make Ducktails eminently listenable. Despite the guitars and drum machines, perhaps the most productive way to think of Mondanile's work is as beach-time ambience, like Boards of Canada, should they choose to roam the vast Jersey Shore of the mind instead of their own icy wastes.


Formed: 2006 in Northampton, MA

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Ducktails is the solo side project of Matthew Mondanile, a member of Ridgewood, New Jersey-based indie beach bums Real Estate. While not too dissimilar in tone from the sun-kissed pop of his main squeeze, Mondanile's work as Ducktails presents a more fragmented, mercurial version of the Garden State of mind. More synthetic, too, than Real Estate, Ducktails is all burbling analog synths, bedroom processing, and sunburnt soundscapes. The end effect acts as a sort of bleary aural Polaroid taken at a...
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Ducktails, Ducktails
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