Ducktails is the long-time project of Matthew Mondanile, more famously known as Real Estate’s guitarist. Mondanile has gone under his Ducktails moniker for years, amassing a slew of delicately lighthearted singles and multiple albums. Though his past approach may sounded vastly understated, The Flower Lane feels like a large-scale production that elevates Mondanile’s music beyond its past quiet charm. Between the formidable guest musicians, higher production quality, and an album release party that was broadcast for the whole world to see, Mondanile’s desire to push the bounds of bedroom-pop is quite clear.
Most of Mondanile’s magnetism in the past has been a result of his ability to write pop songs drenched in lo-fi splendor. The Flower Lane has chilled-out moments, like “Under Cover” and “Ivy Covered House,” that seamlessly fit into the Ducktails discography but some tracks step outside Mondanile’s comfort zone. For instance, “The Flower Lane” begins with a borderline yacht-rock keyboard line, which Mondanile appropriates into a downtrodden song about unreturned love. Also, the depth of having an added backing bad, New Jersey-based Big Troubles, adds an inescapably larger sound that gives Ducktails more power.
The guest musicians on The Flower Lane accent Mondanile well and seem to acclimate to him rather than shifting attention on themselves. Contributions come from Oneohtrix Point Never’s Daniel Lopatin, Joel Ford from Ford + Lopatin, Cults vocalist Madeline Follin, and Sam Mehran from Outer Limitz. Each guest is a reminder of Ducktails’ range, taking into account his interest in fun-loving indie pop. The Flower Lane seems much more dense thanks in-part to the added musicians and different textures. For instance, “Assistant Director” has a similar tonality to “This Is Radio Clash,” “Sedan Magic” is lounge-y and seductive, and might sound alien on Mondanile’s past records. Ultimately, this record has more components and seems more intentional than any of Ducktails’ past work.
The Flower Lane is a lush record that offers Mondanile’s most adventurous work yet, though he may not stray far from what he knows best; discreet tracks that set the standard for bedroom pop today. This record is worth a listen because it feels young and different, something that rarely happens in the largely populated pool of love-drunk minstrels.