Review: Peaches Davenport - "The Ducks (A Snake In The Grass)

Peaches Davenport - The Ducks (A Snake In The Grass)
(Self-Released 2016)

Michigan's Peaches Davenport has proved a fixture on this blog since the 2014 release of THANK YOU JOB SQUAD - a patchwork effort of short, lo-fi vignettes ranging from itchy blankets of musique-concrete to the Elephant 6-inspired baroque pop of "Dog Hair Sweatpants", which topped my list of the year's best singles. The record was unstably dense, an infinite point of noise and compact melody threatening to implode, its glassy keyboard chords filling mixes like smoke rising to a ceiling while percussion clattered like dropped boxes of silverware. JOB SQUAD was dangerous, flammable and painfully pretty. 

Davenport's chosen successor to TYJS, titled The Ducks, is shockingly spacious in comparison, a pastoral landscape dotted with animal noises and delicate folk orchestration that forms a retroactive missing link between The Beach Boys' SMiLE Sessions and Animal Collective's Sung Tongs. "Frankie's Farm" acts as this album's version "Dog Hair Sweatpants", a frenetically played cut in the vein of Beirut around which the rest of the record orbits. Staccato staples of twangy acoustic guitar are fired into an overgrowth of poly-rhythmic percussion hammered out on laundry bins. Wordless vocal harmonies snake through the air like vines. It's a humid conservatory of abstract folk.

"Black Black Moon" is The Ducks' relatively conventional outlier. Peaches' vocals, (usually spookily similar to those of Of Montreal's Kevin Barnes), are pitched up to a phantasmically high octave, forming the eerie twee atmosphere that pervades much of Alex G's discography. It's like a haunted construction site, the whispers of this ghost choir echoing against a steely scaffold of acoustic fingerpicking that slowly crumbles into an outro of ambient ruins. Closing tune "Lemon Pink Bayou" might be the release's best, gloomily draping a veil of mandolin atop an amorphous piece for cello composed by Clark Pang. There's a cinematic sense of sense of despair that makes the song feel like a cliffhanger ending, leaving me wanting for yet another installment in the Peaches Davenport filmography. The Ducks is a polished follow-up to THANK YOU JOB SQUAD that holds firm to the project's fauvist pop ethos: whatever the opposite of a sophomore slump is, this is it.