Ducks Ltd. Album Reviews

The duo of Tom McGreevy and Evan Lewis met on the Toronto scene, bonding over their shared love of vintage indie jangle-pop. They now split their time between Toronto and Geelong, Australia. It makes sense because their jangling recalls Antipodean acts like The Chills, The Go-Betweens, The Bats, and Look Blue Go Purple. It’s hard to break new ground in the well-trodden territory of guitar pop, but their songs are well-written and well-delivered.

Introduction

The duo were originally named Ducks Unlimited but shortened their name before the release of the 2019 EP Get Bleak. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the duo were forced to record their debut album with a drum machine. They returned with a sophomore album, recorded with a full band, in 2024.

Ducks Ltd. Album Reviews

Modern Fiction

2021, 7.5/10
Ducks Ltd recorded their debut album during the 2020-21 COVID pandemic, using the time to focus on a strong debut. They were forced to record in isolation, so the record was mostly completed by McGreevy and Lewis with a drum machine.

New Zealand indie guitar band The Beths provide backing vocals on several tracks. Ducks Ltd. recorded their debut album during the COVID-19 pandemic, locked down with a drum machine.

“We had this time where neither of us had anything really pressing to do. So from April last year, to the middle of February this year, we were getting together twice a week, demoing, writing, recording, for at least three hours each time. We took it really seriously, wrote 22 songs in five months, because we had the time to devote to the process. In terms of being a band, there were probably a lot of cool experiences we didn’t have, but we did have an opportunity to make something we were proud of, which we might not have had otherwise.”

https://hardofhearingmusic.com/2021/09/28/ahead-of-the-release-of-ducks-ltd-s-debut-lp-we-found-out-how-the-pandemic-shaped-their-musical-journey/

Modern Fiction is strong musically, filled with creative guitar licks and hummable tunes. There’s plenty to admire in the songcraft – the album starts beautifully with the busy rhythm guitar of ‘How Lonely Are You’. The busy bass drives strong tunes like ’18 Cigarettes’, while they sound lovely when they go acoustic like the instrumental ‘Patience Wearing Thin’ and the closing ‘Grand Final Day’.

Modern Fiction is an enjoyable throwback to 1980s jangle-pop with some excellent songwriting.


Harm’s Way

2024, 8/10
On Ducks Ltd.’s sophomore album, they’re free to play with other musicians, like Ratboys’ Julia Steiner. But they still sound like a polished, modern take on a 1980s Flying Nun band. The fuller, more organic sound just makes the band better. While the music’s bright and cheerful, the lyrics are often introspective and dark. One song has the hook line “Set up to explode like a train full of gasoline”.

‘Hollowed Out’ is vibrant, like a particularly energetic 1980s Chills tune, while ‘A Girl, Running’ sounds like The Go-Betweens. The guitar line of ‘Cathedral City’ is supple and lively, while ‘Deleted Scenes’ is especially jangly.

There’s enough individuality in the songwriting to suggest that the band have the chance to enjoy a long lifespan. Harm’s Way is another accomplished record, a step forward from their debut.

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Aphoristic Album Reviews is almost entirely written by one person. It features album reviews and blog posts across a growing spectrum of popular music.

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Graham Fyfe has been writing this website since his late teens. Now in his forties, he's been obsessively listening to albums for years. He works as a web editor and plays the piano.

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