Ducks Ltd. Modern Fiction
digital album: 677517015850
- North American publicity by Pitch Perfect PR
Comm Spec radio by Terrorbird
- Sync licensing by Terrorbird
- Videos for “18 Cigarettes,” “How Lonely Are You?” and “Under the Rolling Moon” in the works
- Facebook boosted posts and targeted Instagram dark posts throughout campaign
- Pressed on milky clear vinyl, includes digital download
1. How Lonely Are You?
2. Old Times
3. 18 Cigarettes
4. Under the Rolling Moon
5. Fit to Burst
6. Patience Wearing Thin
7. Always There
8. Sullen Leering Hope
9. Twas Ever Thus
10. Grand Final Day
Toronto’s Ducks Ltd. (formerly Ducks Unlimited), the bright jangle-pop duo of Tom McGreevy (lead vocal, guitar, bass, keyboards) and Evan Lewis (guitar, bass, drum programming), accomplish the impossible. The pair craft songs that play to very specific inspirations without drowning underneath them—immediately evidenced on their critically acclaimed EP, Get Bleak, and sharpened on Modern Fiction, their debut LP. “The Servants, The Clean, The Chills, The Bats, Television Personalities, Felt,” Evan rattles off. “Look Blue Go Purple is one I reference a lot with our production.” Echoes of ‘80s indiepop abound, but they never overwhelm. This is not a nostalgic record, after all, nor is it a derivative one. Instead, across 10 cheery-sounding songs, Ducks Ltd. explore contemporary society in decline, examining large scale human disaster through personal turmoil (hence the title, taken from a university course called Gnosticism and Nihilism in Modern Fiction, influenced by Graham Greene novels. Bookish indie fans, look no further.)
Writing the album was intimate. Tom drafted the nucleus of a song on an unplugged electric guitar and brought it over to Evan’s apartment, where the pair sat in his bedroom, placing percussive beats from a drum machine under nascent melodies, passing a bass back and forth, adding organs and bridges where necessary. “It’s computer music trying extremely hard not to sound like computer music,” Tom jokes. Fearful that limited and expensive studio time would kneecap the project creatively, eroding their charming naivete, the pair re-recorded the album in a storage space owned by Evan’s boss. Ornamentation through collaboration followed: there’s Aaron Goldstein on Pedal Steel in the Go-Betweens’ “Cattle and Cane”-channeling interlude “Patience Wearing Thin,” Eliza Niemi on cello (“18 Cigarettes,” a song loosely inspired by a 1997 Oasis performance of “Don’t Go Away”), and backing harmonies from Carpark labelmates The Beths (on an ode to friendship at a distance, “How Lonely Are You?,” “Always There,” and on the sped-up Syd Barrett stylings of “Under The Rolling Moon.”) While in his native Australia due to covid-19, Evan worked closely with producer James Cecil (The Goon Sax, Architecture in Helsinki) on Modern Fiction’s finishing touches—at one point, in the mountains of the Macedon Ranges in Victoria, recorded a string quartet (featured on “Fit to Burst,” “Always There,” “Sullen Leering Hope,” “‘Twere Ever Thus,” “Grand Final Day.”)
It’s danceable, depressive fun, with some relief: in “Always There” and “Sullen Leering Hope,” Modern Fiction’s faithful heart. “There’s a tendency in my writing, because of my world view, to be very bleak.” Tom explains. “A quality I don’t always see in myself and really appreciate in others is the courage to go on.” And yet, the record manages resiliency—enough for pop fans to fall in love with.
Ducks Ltd. is a band formed in Toronto, Ontario, and currently based between Toronto and Geelong, Australia, that crafts bright and modern jangle-pop. The duo consists of Tom Mcgreevy, on vocals, rhythm guitar and bass, and Evan Lewis, on lead guitar. Both members were playing in other groups within the Toronto music scene and met while on the same tour. They then decided to collaborate upon discovering their mutual love for 80s pop bands like Felt, Orange Juice, and The Go-Betweens. Together, Ducks Ltd. stitches together layers of intricate melody to make moving, nostalgic music — an irresistible combination that radiates energy and provokes introspection.
After building a reputation in their hometown playing with artists like Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever, Weyes Blood, The Goon Sax, Juan Wauters, and Yowler, Ducks Ltd. self-released their debut EP, Get Bleak, on November 29th, 2019. Despite being their very first release, the EP received high praise from the international press, including from Pitchfork, who said of the band “Ducks Ltd. understand that dancing through misery is healthier than dancing around it. Their brand of lilting, throwback jangle-pop makes that seem like the easiest thing in the world to do.”
In 2020, Ducks Ltd. signed to Carpark Records & Royal Mountain Records, with promise of a new music in 2021 to mark a new era for the duo. As an opportunity to reintroduce their debut EP, they will release an expanded re-issue of Get Bleak, along with three additional bonus tracks, “Oblivion,” “As Big As All Outside,” and “It’s Easy.” The songs on Get Bleak are full of the unbridled brilliance of pop, but the tracks are split open with the restlessness and critique of living during a more or less chaotic epoch. The re-issue of Get Bleak allows listeners to revisit the tracks from their EP and gives an exciting glimpse of what’s to come from the band.
Ducks Ltd. are brimming with potential, bringing the same warmth to listeners as when unearthing an old fantasy; wistful and existential, but full of new gusts of inspiration and radiance.