Ducktails – St. Catherine Review

St. Catherine is the title of the latest impending release by Matt Mondanile AKA, Ducktails. The July 24th release see’s him heading in a more Baroque pop sort of direction whilst retaining the Dream Pop aesthetic that Ducktails had invested in with their last album The Flower Lane which keeps the Real Estate member’s music laid back and soft edged. Is this enough to enact a significant change or even a progression to Ducktails’ music?

The single that see’s him heading in a more Baroque pop sort of direction is ‘Headbanging in the Mirror’. The spaced out fringes of the Dreampop from his previous work remains, but the mainstay of the instrumentation is more earthy with the gently ringing riffs and thin, warping organs. Once Matt’s hazy vocal is added to the mix, a laid back and dreamy song is almost unavoidable. It does feels a little safe, though it is well delivered and formed. ‘Surreal Exposure’ carries on down on this route with the lightly washed riffs and sweeter than sweet melodies with Matt’s soft edged and faded vocal which makes for another easy-listening, dream pop. There isn’t much to get your head around however, as it seems to be another safe song. ‘The Disney Afternoon’ is the instrumental opening track that offers up a smooth and relaxing introduction to the album with a simple and gradual stuttered sample with echoed, meandering riffs and shimmering rhythmic and percussive infusion’s.

‘Into the Sky’ verges on the kind of ‘Jangle Pop’ made prominent by R.E.M but delivered in an all round calmer and intimate fashion with Matt’s gentle vocals fading slightly through the loose rhythm section and the slightly distorted lead riff breaking through it. The title track is delivered in much the same way with some small warped fringes upon the riffs and although it’s a very nice and easy song, by the halfway point of the album you’re wishing for the album’s direction to be knocked off course a little or have some vibrancy injected into it. To some extent this comes with the next track ‘The Laughing Woman’ with it’s offset melodies and weary synths twisting and jolting around the acoustics. ‘Church’ is more welcome however with a electronically charged shift with the instrumentation and the melodic backing vocals that result in an intricate, yet quant little track. This theme is pursued further with ‘Medieval’ with the buoyant synth chords mixing with those jangling riffs and rustic string sections in what is almost an Electro-Folk track. The instrumental that is ‘Krumme Lake’ also offers up some soft warped electronica set around basic synth melodies and standard percussion and generally signals an end to an album that is so laid back it is sometimes non-existent, but then does go on to vary and explore the limits of it’s sound. Nevertheless it feels like an odd album in that sense and leaves you a little more half empty in your view. It is lacking too much in direction to be so musically subtle.

Ducktails – St. Catherine = 6/10

Owen Riddle @oriddleo1995

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