Ducks Ltd. make it sound easy. Across all 10 tracks on their debut album, Modern Fiction, the band find a perfect combination of jangling indie pop arpeggios, careening rhythms and Tom McGreevy's beautifully unvarnished singing.
The best songs are sublime -- like when "18 Cigarettes" or "Under the Rolling Moon" go widescreen in their transcendent choruses -- but even the worst ones are simply very good.
Calling to mind the jangle-pop of The Chills , The Clean and more recent acts such as Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever , Ducks Ltd's sprightly melancholy was calming without being saddening, a beautiful and tender take on a range of unsettling topics. "18 Cigarettes", the first single from new album Modern Fiction, was the first indication that the duo's debut full-length wasn't going to veer too far from the same formula. Built around the type of skeletal instrumentation which defined that EP, the track sets into a groove of bouncing guitars and undulating bass lines, finding humour in its querying of how anyone can smoke a full pack of cigarettes, though revolving around the sensitive nostalgia expressed in the chorus, as vocalist/guitarist Tom McGreevy sings "I wanted things to stay as they would not stay".
Photo by Rob Carmichael, Christiane Johnson, Laura Hermiston Straight out of the gate, a furious double strum reminiscent of The Wedding Present sets the tone for Toronto duo Ducks Ltd's debut album. Thereafter things settle into a roll through the history of jangle-adjacent indie as Tom McGreevy and Evan Lewis contrast bleakly yearning lyrics with bright, driving guitars garlanded with organs, strings and backing vocals provided by The Beths. McGreevy writes the lyrics and handles the lead vocals and keyboards, Lewis programs the drums and the pair double up on guitars and share bass duties.