You’re floating in a small boat with an umbrella protruding from the middle that shades you from the sun, soon to set behind a nearby hill. Surfers glide by you on either side as your craft bobs over cresting waves, and you are steadily taken to a nearby shore by the ocean. The beach is lined with torches, lit by the smiling individuals that surround you. You pull your boat into the sand and look out to the water, covered in floating, twinkling lights . . .
In a previous “review,” I mentioned the lauded element of “warmth” in music. This record radiates like few other releases this year, and it comes from a band that I’ve been into for quite some time. St. Catherine is the newest full-length by Ducktails, a group originally conceived as a solo project by Matt Mondanile, who also plays guitar for Real Estate. This is a deceptively simple album filled to the brim with cozy pockets of golden songwriting.
Mondanile channels the distinct aura of serene comfort from his other band, and maintains his always-compelling guitar melodies that are strewn across previous records. However, these pieces of music are embossed with a different kind of sheen, an entrancing quality of psychedelia characterized by tasteful instrumental loops and ethereal sonic layering. It’s innovative while also possessing an air of familiarity.
The immaculate production can be attributed to the ingenious Rob Schnapf, who co-produced some of Elliot Smith’s best works. There’s a meticulous attention to detail, shown in the shimmery acoustic guitars, pristine drum EQ-ing, and vivid string arrangements. Julia Holter’s featured vocals on “Church” are just the cherry on top. If you’re seeking warmly familiar, entrancingly psychedelic pop, this album is for you.
– stasi (@stasisphere)