With the ever increasing encroachment of technology in all corners of the world, from our everyday lives to the way in which art is influenced, created and released unto the public, a vast part of artistic endeavour either looks forward, attempting to develop a new strand of thought and creation, or harks back, drawing upon outdated ideas and styles in order to sound distinct, different and fresh, especially to a young audience raised in a world of digital formats and instantly accessible media. Nostalgic decade and genre reruns are two-a-penny nowadays, from the new rave nightmare to the day-glo 80s revival, but an actual physical return is rare outside of select circles, such as the world of Ducktails, the original pseudonym of Matthew Mondanile, guitarist of Real Estate. His initial solo offerings consisted of stripped back tape cassette recordings, full of fuzzy indistinction and undefined riffs that crackle their way through the thin line of tape that spins and clogs in a physical sensation that is all-but gone in the world of MP3s and USBs.
Whilst such a musical ideology is initially captivating in its simplicity and archaic allure, the unfortunate deficiency of availability of a cassette player, as well as the hazy hum offered forth, provides an automatic barrier for certain segments of a possible audience. Real Estate are a psychedelic pop band who peddle surf rock melted into an aforementioned haze, and it feel’s as if Ducktails has taken on the aura of his band’s work by blending his blurring murmurs with melodic choruses, surf-led, genial guitar and vocals that sweeten the recipe into a surprisingly saccharine spirit on ‘Ducktails III: Arcade Dynamics’.
The opening piece of the record, ‘In The Swing’, bumbles its way into life thanks to a stuttering percussive start and an endearing riff that shuffles it’s way throughout. This ambling approach evokes an instant warming of the heart, sounding far too understatedly joyous to dismiss with a sarcastic sneer. The music feels like a big hug from an old friend, thanks to the tremulous, tender twang of the tracks and the soft fuzz coating the recordings, recalling long lost summer memories from a longed-for youth. ‘Little Window’ contains a tambourine accompaniment that elevates the atmosphere to a much sunnier climate, almost bouncing it’s way higher and higher with each shake and rattle.
‘Killin The Vibe’ is a masterstroke of a lazy, hazy track, using a tropical guitar line and repetition to its utmost, recalling the best of Best Coast and Panda Bear. And, coincidentally, this is made all the more exquisite by the addition of Panda Bear for an alternative version of the track at the end of the album, adding in a big dollop of upbeat vocalisation to provide the cherry on top of the Ducktails cake. ‘Porch Projector’ leisurely sprawls out into a meandering manipulation of sound, breezing it’s way through a blustery, sleepy tone that brings to mind a world of stoner dreampop. This last hurrah of the album is a reminder of the origins of Ducktails, disconcerting and disjointed yet merging into a ten minute treat that creeps along with a comfy, cosy warmth and an improvisational attitude that demands an admiration that simply can’t be gleaned in the highly-glossed, over-produced, three minute pop hits that litter themselves throughout the chart listings.
Words : Adam Parker