The Flower Lane
Feb 13, 2013 Web Exclusive
You could say Matthew Mondanile's idea of a "solo" project has become a little skewed. The Real Estate guitarist's fourth outing as Ducktails includes support from New Jersey outfit Big Troubles and contributions from Cults, Oneohtrix Point Never, and Outer Limitz (to name a few). But rather than dilute Mondanile's woozy psych-pop aesthetic, this congestion of ideas brings fresh focus to his lo-fi craft.
Notably, the shift from the bedroom-born acoustics of 2011's Arcade Dynamics to a studio environment has helped shape a richer, more voluptuous body of work. The surface-scratching lilts of old have been replaced by gorgeous multi-layered swells such as twinkling opener "Ivy Covered House" and the blissful undulation of "Sedan Magic."
But The Flower Lane isn't about reinvention; Mondanile continues to produce sauntering laments that pour out like fresh orange juice on a warm summer's day. This ethereal, if slightly languid, gaze is eagerly maintained by the Wild Nothing-like guitar chiming of "Under Cover" and the swirling, unbridled train ride of "International Date Line."
Despite the familiar hallmarks, these 10 cuts are more dynamic than any of Mondanile's previous efforts. In particular, "Planet Phrom"—a Peter Gutteridge cover—is the sort of feet-sweeping pop glide he's always threatened to unleash, while "Letter of Intent," a tussling duet between Future Shuttle's Jessa Farkas and Big Trouble's Ian Drennan, is a divine foray into synthesized dreamscapes.
Sure, it's no masterpiece, but The Flower Lane represents Matthew Mondanile's most consistent record to date. It would appear flying solo is a lot easier when you've got friends. (www.ducktails.bandcamp.com)
Author rating: 7/10
Average reader rating: 6/10