Ducks Ltd.: Harm’s Way (Carpark) - review | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Thursday, April 18th, 2024  

Ducks Ltd.

Harm’s Way

Carpark

Feb 14, 2024 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


For Harm’s Way, Ducks Ltd.—the duo of Tom McGreevy and Evan Lewis—met up with a bevy of Chicago’s finest (Ratboys’ Julia Steiner and Marcus Nuccio, Finom’s Macie Stewart among many others) for a cross border recording session in the Windy City. But in spite of the dozen listed collaborators, the follow-up to the equally stunning Modern Fiction is as tight and uncluttered as they come. The added vocals and string arrangements form more of a base over which McGreevy’s compositions, abetted by Lewis’ guitar work, run rampant.

Most of the songs start with a microdosed tease (the halting start that announces the opening “Hollowed Out” for instance) before bursting forth into the loveliest of melodies. Already established as the modern day standard bearers of jangle pop, as further evidenced here on “A Girl, Running,” Harm’s Way explores some different paths. The clarion guitars and bounding bass line of “Cathedral City” are reminiscent of the hard charging early days of alt-country. The song also shares the sentimental strain, a few melodic bits, and a couple of words with the late Charlie Robison’s “My Hometown.” The acoustic guitar balladry and organ chords of “Heavy Bag,” bring a different flavor as well before morphing to a more patented close.

Other tracks hew closer to the duo’s stock-in-trade and are perfectly executed. The heavy tremolo of “Train Full of Gasoline” propels the song forward. While the countervailing guitar line of the title track provides a delicious tension that’s wiped away by McGreevy’s shout-along chorus and some punchy bass notes. Though the album deals in some darker themes, pointedly the “gray green nothingness in me” of “Cathedral City,” the briskness with which the songs unfurl make it impossible not to get caught up in their infectious grooves.

Descriptors may fail to encapsulate how naturally joyous soundtracking your day to Ducks Ltd. can be, but there is at least an explanation. Science long ago determined that 70° (that’s 21° Celsius for our Toronto-based Ducks) is the perfect temperature for humans to thrive, which is described as thermal neutrality. And though there is nothing neutral to be said about what Ducks Ltd. bring to bear on Harm’s Way, there is no doubt that the music the partnership produces is what our bodies were programmed to receive. (www.ducksltd.co)

Author rating: 8/10

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Average reader rating: 8/10



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