Retrospective 4: Ducktails - "Lost"

Ducktails - Lost Cassette
(2010 Woodsist/F*** It Tapes)
  It's time to be honest with myself here. Chillwave is a dead genre. Heck, it's been three years since the summer of '09, the synth-laden scene's equivalent to Woodstock, and the scene's already been forgotten. After listening to this 2010 Ducktails cassette, I'm already anxiously awaiting some sort of revival. Although I haven't been able to find out much about this album, it seems to be a collection of early demos. There's no tracklist available, though, adding to the tapes mystique.

 Only 200 copies of Lost were made, but it very well may be chillwave's magnum opus. Side A kicks off with an eight-minute look at frontman Matt Mondanile's drone-rock past. The mess of screechy, fuzzy guitars that begin the track may seem a bit inaccessible, but once the delayed keyboards and tinny drum machines kick in, you'll be hooked. It's what would happen if you had an 80s synth-pop group merge with a psychedelic band from the early 70s. The trance-inducing thrill ride takes an awkward turn into completely new territory in track two. This time around, the music is a tad more structured yet no less strange. The song has a funky garage-rock vibe and is carried by an extremely catchy bassline. Side A's final track is the highlight of the album, a grainy look back at retro sit-com theme songs. It's one of those songs that just begs to be paired with a fan-made music video, preferably one the champions the values of suburban America.

 I'd actually recommend listening to side B first, as it's the less challenging half of Lost and the more recognizably old-school of the pair. It opens with a bouncy piece of turbulent dream-pop, accented by overly repetitive drumming and cheesy arpeggiated synths. It's absolute chillwave perfection. Following is a demo of "Little Window" from the last Ducktails' latest full-length, Arcade Dynamic. It's the most straightforward tune here, and its dangerously easy for it to become stuck in your head. Listen with caution! The rest of the cassette mirrors Mondanile's more recent output, with melancholy chords floating over shimmering tambourine. Lost may not be the most important album of the 21st century, but it may be one of the prettiest.

Listen to both sides below.