Ducktails: Killin’ The Vibe EP

Matthew Mondanile’s newest short-form offering of addictive and frequently brilliant experimental psychedelic pop seems to perfectly fit the bill for a late July chillwave release. Released under the moniker Ducktails, the Killin’ The Vibe EP represents a continuation of Mondanile’s ongoing work apart from the lo-fi surf pop of New Jersey band Real Estate,  January’s Ducktails III: Arcade Dynamics being his most recent full length release. This EP’s title track – a sincere, laidback meditation as perfect for a peaceful nap on a sweltering beach as it is for an endlessly rainy day – actually appeared on that record, albeit in a relatively undercooked form.

The core pieces of what makes “Killin’ The Vibe” one of the summer’s best single-worthy songs remain from its former incarnation: in typical neo psychedelic pop fashion, an infectiously melodic fragment of light drum machine, percussive knick knacks and smoothly-processed guitars (with the sole accompanying lyrics of “Don’t go killin’, killin’ the vibe/I can’t take your lame style/Can’t you just sit awhile/And try your hardest to smile”) is looped so many times over the track’s four and a half minutes that the listener probably wouldn’t notice if it lasted twenty. However, with a little help from some cleaned up instrumentation, crisped production and an impressive pedigree of new contributors (including Animal Collective vocalist Panda Bear, solo multi-instrumentalist Dent May and Woods’ Jarvis Taveniere), the “remixed” version of “Killin’ The Vibe” doesn’t just render the previous version obsolete, but topples the better part of Ducktails’ entire discography.

“Couch Surfer”, with a feel similar to Toro Y Moi’s most recent Underneath the Pine, pushes the EP further into tropical monsoon territory by washing out a sample of “Yo Ya” – a rocking Derek and the Dominos-inspired track by mid-1970s Israeli band Kaveret – and overlaying it with the sounds of a sleep machine on “beach” setting and lethargic, melatonin-induced vocals. Elsewhere though, unmemorable down-tempo drums and listless, monotone crooning make “Sit Around With Ya” sound less like new release material than a genuine outtake from Arcade Dynamics. Nevertheless, that does little to detract from what is otherwise an addictive little record, as all the music found here is presumably leftover material; and the fact that Mondanile is able to bookend it with a full-band live recording of the title track makes Killin’ The Vibe the kind of EP that’s sure to make lovers, haters and casual listeners of chillwave press “repeat”.

Killin’ The Vibe on Amazon.com (sorry, the limited edition 7″ vinyl release sold out very quickly)

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