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14 January 2013

Ducktails - 'Landscapes' (Olde English Spelling Bee)

This Ducktails record is such a pleasing style of provocative music. It's built around pure dreams, the sounds being made up of airy, warm comfort that is still psychedelic in it's overall assemblage. The guitars are strummed and picked as melodic chords, recorded in a hazy, phased-out lo-fi style which reminds me of Bügsküll or other remnants of DIY dream-pop. When Mr. Ducktails (Matt Mondanilee) sings it's like a sweet, hesitant demo tape. He's not afraid to go falsetto, but it's clear that the vocals aren't meant to be any more than another layer. The cheap rhythm loops, from probably built in keyboard beats, are a testament to this generation of thrift-store sound voyagers. But while many of his generation fixate on harshness and tension, Mondanilee glides along a soft, supportive wave. Even the technicolour artwork suggests a family holiday, the sweet sense of teenage nostalgia, and a place where no dogs bite. I don't mean to say this is pure ear candy - it eschews polish, consisting of dirty-yet-soft edges.  Where a lot of melodic loop-pedal kids end up stuck in go-nowhere harmonic noodling, Mondanilee has a sense of balance - these are pop songs, even if mostly instrumental, and they burn with a relaxed glow that channels energy inward instead of being lazy. Maybe that's what 'hypnagogic' means but I think people already stopped saying that a few years ago.

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