Way back in the summer of 2009, when Matt Modanile’s Ducktails project was getting a-rolling with Landscapes, it was fashionable to label just about anything with even a hint of nostalgia with the oft-maligned Chillwave moniker. Too often bastardized and misapplied, it never found a home more inappropriate than slapped on Modanile’s homespun acoustic guitar meanderings. 2011’s Arcade Dynamics came and the songs were even lazier, hazily rafting downstream certainly but riding chill waves they were not.
It’s interesting then that with “The Flower Lane”, Modanile’s first single and title track from his upcoming collaborative effort, we find him all of a sudden on a convergent path with one of the glo-fi progenitors in Toro Y Moi. Though, “The Flower Lane” doesn’t find Modanile trading in the slacker-rock for reverbed out bedroom beats, it’s currency is in the same sort of psychedelia and soft rock that provided Toro Y Moi’s Underneath The Pine its shady late afternoon feel. Certainly it’s most reflective of Ducktails expansion to include contributions from Modanile’s longtime backing band (which consists of 3/4 of Big Troubles), fleshing out Modanile’s dream-pop beyond the fuzzy bedroom compositions that once laid on his albums. I mean yeah, this still isn’t chillwave, but Modanile is bound to straight guitar pop no longer. Even if it represents a step toward Toro’s 70s pastiche, it represents Modanile on the move, expanding outward instead of indulging in further navel-gazing, and that’s reason to be curious of this new effort at the very least.