Real Estate guitarist Matt Mondinale just released a new album entitled “St. Catherine,” the fifth addition to his solo discography, which operates under the moniker Ducktails. A laidback foray into the dream world, the record drifts along the same plane for the entirety of its journey, bringing together reverberating guitar melodies and mellow vocals. While there’s little emotional variance between the songs, “St. Catherine” features some of Mondinale’s most complex compositional work.
The opening track, “The Disney Afternoon,” is a synth-ridden instrumental that overlays zigzagging guitar arpeggios atop simple keyboard sounds. It’s a memorable opener, which sets up the relaxed atmosphere of the rest of the album. A simple backing drumbeat leads into the next track, “Headbanging in the Mirror,” another standout. With a groovy bass line carrying the rhythm, the song swells in the choruses, when more of the distinct guitar work comes in and background pads crescendo. Later, the album features some gorgeous string arrangements (“Heaven’s Room” and “Medieval”) and a cameo from singer/songwriter Julia Holter (“Church”). “Church” is especially striking, with entwined vocal harmonies and a tinge of melancholia. During the interludes, a modulated keyboard echoes an antsy guitar riff, creating anticipation and suspense — only to eventually give way to an abrupt stop at the end of the song.
If you’re looking for your next favorite introspective summer record, “St. Catherine” is a great option, with its chill vibe and exquisite instrumentation.