Music Reviews
Flower Lane

Ducktails Flower Lane

(Domino) Buy it from Insound Rating - 3/10

“Over-Hyped” is probably the most suitable phrase for everything associated with the band Real Estate. That goes double for Matt Mondanile’s latest album as Ducktails. Honestly kiddies, I really don’t get what the fuss is about, but so goes the story with everything surrounding the “cool kid” music bubbling out of today’s indie scene. Ducktails, Real Estate, Alex Bleeker And The Freaks, and whatever other side-projects and superfluous endeavors I’ve seemed to have missed out on are all part of the same brand of vacuous, bland, hipster-chic bullshit.

Yeah, we hear how “unique” and “refreshing” Mondanile made that old, cheesy ‘80s synthesizer sound on Flower Lane and Sedan Magic. The stomp and jive of the wailing guitar solo on Timothy Shy might have just as much life as Jimi Hendrix’s Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame-preserved vomit. Oh yeah, and did you hear those retro chimes on Under Cover? Whoa, whoa, whoa, someone stop the world from turning -- I think we may have just made Rick James’ festering, dead corpse crack a thin-skinned, skeletal smile. Ok, that’s enough poor-taste sarcasm for one review. But seriously, how else am I supposed to respond to music that’s made by and for irony-craving, indie young’uns? How long am I supposed to pretend to like Mondanile’s (or any other guest-vocalist’s) droning, “I-could-give-a-shit” vocals before I feel at one with the Greenpoint, Brooklyn ‘it’ kids? I guess not long enough. 

I know what you’re thinking right about now. Probably something between, “This guy’s a bitter lunatic” and “I bet he didn’t even listen to this album.” Well, you’re both right and wrong, folks. Admittedly, I’m about as inexplicably angry and jaded as they come. However, I did listen to Flower Lane pretty heavily -- actually about eleven times -- and you know what? I can safely say that I have no better understanding of its appeal on my eleventh listen than I did on my first. And believe it or not, I was genuinely excited to hear this album. 

As I said before, I never really cared much for Real Estate, but Mondanile’s Ducktails always seemed at very least casually interesting. Before all the chill-wave, slacker vocals and heavy-handed, ironic keyboard fiddling, Ducktails was a stripped down home-recorded project that primarily generated soundscapes reminiscent of retro-videogame soundtracks and bizarre infomercial muzak. This isn’t to paint Ducktails III or Landscapes as some sort of flawless back-catalog or anything -- both of those albums definitely had their share of flaws -- but I think that just might have been a critical part of Ducktails’ initial appeal. But that’s all gone on this record -- jettisoned in favor of a quick grab for the average "relevant" reviewer’s approval.

On Flower Lane, Mondanile and the gang stepped out of the bedroom and into the studio, and the result is something just as sterile as every other song by Real Estate. While we can sit here and debate the true “artistic” intention of Mondanile and Real Estate’s “cool” brand of utterly indifferent music-making, it would merely serve as an exercise in futility. And while I wish I could like this album, and subsequently assimilate into the horde of art-book toting, beanie-wearing, walking human-mustaches that crowd the modern indie scene, I just can’t do it. Plus, I never planned on being cool anyway...