While Real Estate guitarist Matt Mondanile's previous work under the name Ducktails were solo efforts with a lo-fi bedroom sound, 'Flower Lane' was recorded with a full band, with lush instrumentation and fluid melodies making for a very dreamy, and at times extremely psychedelic, listening experience. The true beauty of this album took a few listens to reveal itself to me, and I'm glad I decided to give it another go after my brief, somewhat underwhelming listening experience while streaming these tracks last week.
Upon first blush, the songs here seem like your standard laid-back dream-pop, only with more heartfelt and sincere lyrics than most. However, after my initial sampling, I noticed that I couldn't get certain songs out of my head. I finally gave the album a couple more thorough listens, uncovering elements I hadn't previously noticed, such as intertwining melodies and tripped-out background atmospherics that, when combined with the nostalgia-laced lyrics and overall contemplative, warm-yet-melancholy vibe, made for an excellent late-night headphone journey last night.
Highlights for me include the blissful, catchy jangle-pop of "Ivy Covered House" as well as "Letter of Intent," which features ethereal guest vocals from Jessa Farkas over a hypnotic beat and swirling synths that have been stuck in my head for days now. My favorite, though, is "Under Cover," which has an almost "smooth jazz" vibe that wouldn't have been out of place on an 80's Roxy Music album, only dreamier, due to excellent noodling jazz guitar weaving in and out of the main groove. It even features a mini sax solo, which only adds to the 80's vibe, but not in a cheesy way.
'Flower Lane' was definitely a grower for me, but overall I'm impressed with Mondanile's progression, both musically and lyrically, with his backing band deserving a lot of the credit for the stellar instrumentation. Hopefully this is just the beginning of Ducktails the band, because if this album is any indication, they seem to have the capability to create something truly special one day. After witnessing the huge creative leap made here, I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if it came soon. In fact, I'm kind of expecting it.