Release Date: Nov 5, 2013
Record label: Domino
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock
When Ducktails unleashed The Flower Lane in early 2013, the album's dramatic shift of gears took it from Real Estate guitarist Matt Mondanile's hazy side project to a more fully fleshed-out sophisticated pop band with touches of the soft, psychedelic guitar noodling that defined Ducktails prior to that. The Flower Lane was a gorgeous and polished affair, dabbling with electronic textures and synthetic beats without ever becoming jagged in contrast to the breezy live instrumentation. Wish Hotel, the five-song EP that directly followed, is more of the same approach, this time with Mondanile giving his backing band the day off (members of Real Estate touring buds Big Troubles assisted with The Flower Lane) and recording all of the instruments himself in the style that gave birth to the earliest Ducktails cassette releases.
Were I a betting man, I’d have no problem putting down a year’s rent on venturing that Matt Mondanile is probably what college freshmen colloquially refer to as a “chill guy. ” This is a man who once wrote a song called “Killin the Vibe” (lyric: “Don’t go killin’/ Killin’ the vibe/ I can’t take/ Your lame style”) and plays guitar for Real Estate, whose 2011 record Days is the finest example of a band turning the classic Dylan lyric “jingle-jangle morning” into an ethos. A not-entirely-fair critique of Real Estate is that a lot of their songs sound the same—the band would beg to differ—but there’s no doubting a similarity of instrumental elements.
I suppose the most jarring thing about Ducktails is just how sharply the laid back nature of their sound contrasts with Matt Mondanile's work ethic. Not content to put his feet up whilst the band that represent his day job, Real Estate, are on hiatus, he's thrown himself headfirst back into this solo project, with new EP Wish Hotel arriving just weeks after the conclusion of a lengthy, full band European tour, and mere months since the last Ducktails full-length, The Flower Lane, dropped back in January. Tempting as it is to draw the conclusion that an EP so soon after a full record is likely to comprise material that didn't quite make the cut last time around, Wish Hotel seldom sounds like it might have sprung from the same sessions as The Flower Lane.
It’s easy to consider Ducktails—the solo project of Real Estate guitarist Matt Mondanile—nothing more than a diversion between Real Estate albums, but Mondanile proved many listeners wrong with his cohesive, brilliant album The Flower Lane this year. His new EP Wish Hotel continues in the vein of that album, albeit in a looser, jammier way. Structurally, the songs are closer to Monandile’s earlier Ducktails work—the arrangements are built more around Mondanile’s phased guitar rather than any vocal melody.
Ducktails' new EP follows on the heels of its latest LP, The Flower Lane, released early in 2013 and the group's strongest effort yet. While The Flower Lane feels like a full-band effort, the six tracks on the Wish Hotel EP take head Ducktail Matt Mondanile back to the solo, bedroom-style recordings of early Ducktails offerings. .
This EP of hazy psychedelic pop is the second Ducktails release this year from Matt Mondanile of American indie-rockers Real Estate. Like previous Ducktails outings it’s a record that owes as much to ‘60s rockers The Moody Blues as it does college-rock, with the title track sounding like a too-stoned Pavement, ‘Jazz’ resonating with krautrock ambitions and ‘Tie Dye’ lost somewhere in between. Initially a side-project that began in Mondanile’s folks’ basement, Ducktails have been labeled ‘chillwave’ and ‘hypnagogic pop’ due to their naval-gazing appeal.
With the release of The Flower Lane just less than nine months ago, Real Estate guitarist Matt Mondanile took his Ducktails project in a surprising, new direction. That album, his first with Domino, was wrapped in sophisticated production values, and played around with jazz, funk, and other genres. The Flower Lane’s experiments were largely successful, indulging Mondanile’s endearingly laid-back personality while dropping the lo-fi aesthetic of his previous offerings.