Album Review – Modern Fiction by Ducks Ltd (2021) (Car Park Records)
Back in the 2019 days of yore (pre-pandemic days seems so long ago now!?), before (presumably some sort of copyright issue) they change their name from Ducks Unltd to Ducks Ltd, this Torinto based duo of Tom McGreevy (lead vocal, guitar, bass, keyboards) and Evan Lewis (guitar, bass, drum programming), released a Get Bleak EP that made just about every ‘2019 Best of list’ that mattered (including being 2nd on Janglepophubs‘).
Fast forward a couple of years and a label change to indie legends, Carpark Records, this Canadian duo look set to embark upom a similar trajectory of unadulterated critical acclaim with a debut Modern Fiction album that explores a theme of general unease and melancholic resignation about the decline of societal values, whilst always managing to do so with a disparate sense of jangle-pop dynamism.
Without the slightest possibility of any track being considered as filler, the album excels upon two distinctly interlinked vibes. Initially How Lonely Are You?, 18 Cigarettes (both incorporating incredible The Wedding Present style incessant introductions) and ‘Twere Ever Thus take the sprightly jangled riffs of the Vehicle era The Clean and add extra layers of almost indie rock energy.
Similarly, the jangled beauty is also seen in the tighter, more dulcet feel of Patience Wearing Thin, Always There and the superlative stand out of Sullen Leering Hope, which take a Dunedin sound detour towards a more downplayed territory that is more akin to The Bats aesthetic.
Arguably the best of the album is heard in Old Times, Under the Rolling Moon, Fit To Burst and Grand Final Day. Here Kiwi Jr / Rolling Blackout Coast Fever / Dude York ramshackle jangle-pop attacks the aural sense from every angle, in an energy that is reminiscent of the aforementioned acts, but never really matched by them. The fact they still manage to infuse glorious melodic riffs through the hectic dynamism, is ttestament to the utter brilliance of this act.
A couple of albums down the line and Ducks Ltd could well be the best jangle-pop act around.