Photos: Tim Ellis . . . . .
Matt Mondanille’s Ducktails have never sounded finer than when they graced the intimate confines of The Louisiana, with their delicate brand of swayable, hypnogogic pop this past Saturday night.
There is often a lot of misapprehension surrounding local bands, but support acts on the night did well to oust such untruths. The Crisis Project were first on the bill, already away with their atmospheric Ulrich Schnauss-y style electronica (complete with surreal underwater visuals) as the room above the Louisiana began to fill up; and despite a few nervous jitters here and there, they gave a really great performance.
Second support CAPE – a conglomerate local supergroup, boasting talent from SEASFIRE, The Naturals, and The Locarnos – provided a slight deviation as they stunned the audience with their brand of boisterous indie rock; buzzy synths and wailing guitars a plenty.
At the clock struck ten, Ducktails (after awkwardly navigating the crowd to get to the stage) assumed positions to begin their set.
Opening with ‘The Flower Lane’ from their latest LP of the same name – a four minute gem of melancholy wonderment, building up to the hilt, where Mondanille’s wistful chants of “the flower lane” drip subtly across the crowd – you’d be forgiven for thinking the band had taken a much more minimal approach to their live sound, as was the case with the next few tracks; select choices from the latest LP and their former, ‘Arcade Dynamics’.
‘Sit Around With You’ came and went without sparking any immediacy for attention, and ‘Under Cover’ grooved on its incessant eight minute course, meeting with a few tentative bobs and sways in its duration from the crowd, but mostly to an unreceptive mass of pent-up indie coolness. ‘Hamilton Road’ was a real stand out, however; a delicious bitesize morsel of sun-tinged psych-pop which left you wanting more.
As Mondanille introduced ‘Planet Phrom’ (a Peter Gutteridge cover) mid-set, many recognised it as the kooky gem in the rough from Ducktails’ latest, and was met a generous approval. Among the cosmic guitar patterns, and smooth drawl of lyrics, it was certainly hard not to find yourself an affected listener; as by meticulous poignancy it evoked the melancholy of a by-gone era, “space-age” aspirations, and a harrowing tomorrow.
As the imminent curfew time loomed threateningly forward, Mondanille and co. seemingly deliberated through a collection of unfazed shuffles and silent stares to one another their intent to play a few new tracks. The first was awash of textured psychedelia which brought to mind early Landscapes-era Ducktails. This was followed by ‘Jazz’, dubbed so for obvious reasons.
Whilst Ducktails’ sound is undoubtedly a very pleasant experience for the listener, what is missing is a sense of immediacy. There is certainly no punch, no building tension, no sense of release, as these delicate psych symphonies unfurl. Indeed, you quite often get the impression that Ducktails are contented merely to go along at their own pace. Here and there, they tweak and tinker, but overall it is hard to escape that too frequent sense of déjà vu. Yet, this is their precise charm. There is nothing taxing about Ducktails, they simply are; mellow, dreamlike, and slightly confusing; drifting in and out like waves crashing gently on the shore.
Listen to ‘The Flower Lane’ right here: