Ducktails reinvigorate the synth-pop concept with Watercolors.
The new album incorporates sax and bossa nova elements into an immersive synth-pop energetic and sharper than Jersey Devil.
The mastermind behind Ducktails, Matt Mondanile started the project as a lonesome wolf recording lo-fi and hypnagogic pop tunes that result on the self-titled debut on May 11 of 2009.
In 2013, the former Real Estate guitarist signed to Domino Records to drop the watershed The Flower Lane that radically switches the bubblegum guitar loops to high-quality indie rock and synth pop Letter of Intent. The current Mondanile’s phase upgrades to another level when the sophisticated Catholic aesthetic album St. Catherine came in 2015. Two years after, the Jersey Devil is chosen (by me) the best of 2017.
Entirely focused on Ducktails in a sort of ‘solo project’ with his label New Images Limited, Mondanile proved consistency after Jersey Devil releasing two singles New Dream and Plastic Melody in 2018. The gap between the last album and the latest Watercolors are some new elements that reinvigorate a sharper and brighter environment with saxophone by Dimitris Karayiannis and a more vibrant synth-pop with bossa nova ingredients that renew the indie pop meaning since Beach Fossils last album Somersault.
Featuring Sergios Voudris (engineer, vocal harmonies, bass, pianet, rhodes), Yani Martinelli (vocals, guitar, and keyboard), Kostas Stergious (drums), and Dimitris Karayiannis (saxophone), Watercolors were recorded in Mondanile’s hometown Ridgewood in New Jersey, Antwerp, and Athens.
The album includes Answered in a Prayer, an introspective fantasy in search for a utopic peaceful place in response to the real reality “I don’t fit in this crazy world was never meant for me.” The track Watercolors use the same formula of synthesizers and jazzy saxophone producing a rich, mature and dense sound. The lyricism on personal subjects through jangle guitars and synth effects on the background as The Curtain’s Mood, while the sparkling ‘80s atmosphere Confession invokes regrets of some past mistakes: “But I never meant to make anyone feel bad on purpose or by mistake so I hope you understand.”
The milestone Blue Light overbound Mondanile’s creative venturing on bossa nova rhythmic drums that overflow on an incessant sax and guitar solos. The summer lounge aesthetic persists on Olympic Air and Lip Service that are most instrumental tracks and jazzy psychedelic immersive, while Bad Guy finishes the masterpiece with a rustic acoustic guitar solo fading out. Astonishing, it’s impossible not headbang (in the mirror).
Although, it is possible to affirm that Matthew wants to exceed his compositions bringing something different but maintain the same concept since the earlier Ducktails tapes. Behind Ducktails and apart from the Real Estate purposes, Mondanile has the freedom to be more inspiring, creative, nostalgic, and introspective on his works, something that he has done since the last decade.