With the release of The Flower Lane just less than nine months ago, Real Estate guitarist Matt Mondanile took his Ducktails project in a surprising, new direction. That album, his first with Domino, was wrapped in sophisticated production values, and played around with jazz, funk, and other genres. The Flower Lane’s experiments were largely successful, indulging Mondanile’s endearingly laid-back personality while dropping the lo-fi aesthetic of his previous offerings. On Wish Hotel, his latest EP, Mondanile scraps the lush, expansive sound and goes back to his simpler, home-recorded basics.
Where The Flower Lane employed a full band and featured collaborations with Daniel Lopatin of Oneohtrix Point Never and Madeline Follin of Cults, amongst others, Mondanile stands alone on Wish Hotel. Recorded in his Ridgewood, New Jersey home, Mondanile returns to the lackadaisical lo-fi sentimentality of Ducktails III: Arcade Dynamics, while furthering his pop songwriting chops. A perfect example of this is the standout opener “Tie-Dye”, which features warm guitar tones, a squealing lead synthesizer, and a prominent bass line.
Phased-out guitars drive the EP’s lead single, “Honey Tiger Eyes”, though while it’s a well composed tune, it’s not entirely memorable. On the highlight title track, Mondanile wistfully sings that “you could be mine” over hazy, moody atmospherics. Occasionally on Wish Hotel, the jam-minded tracks veer into pure noodling, like the instrumental closer “Naïve Music”, though the majority of the EP is composed of highly-listenable songs.
In interviews, Mondanile has explained that Ducktails acts as a means to pursue ideas he couldn’t while working with his Real Estate bandmates. His independence has proven to be necessary, with each release showcasing his growth as an individual songwriter. Though these five songs trend closer to his earlier material, Wish Hotel makes it clear that Mondanile has become more adept at writing fully-formed, accessible songs.
Essential Tracks: “Tie-Dye”, “Wish Hotel”