Ducks Ltd. Modern Fiction

CAK158

Oct 1st, 2021

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.

Tracklisting

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

Audio

Other Info

UPC(s):

lp: 677517015812
cd: 677517015829
digital album: 677517015850

Modern Fiction:

  • North American publicity by Pitch Perfect PR
  • College/Non-Commercial/AAA/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

Press Photos

Hi-Res TIFF album art:

Lead Press Photos:

Artist Bio

Propelled by a fondness for boundless jangle-pop, Toronto’s Ducks Ltd. (formerly Ducks Unlimited, no association with the questionable waterfowl hunting nonprofit) is a duo that operates with the dynamism of a full band: Tom McGreevy (vocals, guitar, bass, keyboards) and Evan Lewis (guitar, bass, drum programming) met at a Dilly Dally show around the time they were both applying for permanent residency and playing in different local bands, quickly recognizing something in each other: a resolute love of underrated ‘80s indiepop a la Sarah Records (specifically for Tom, U.K. groups like Close Lobsters, the Marxist band McCarthy, anything on Cherry Red Records; for the Australian Evan, The Go-Betweens and Flying Nun Records). But impressive knowledge of niche pop music does not make a band: the pair started writing and recording together in 2018, taking the time to discover their musical identity: a whole EP was recorded with outside producers and scrapped, never to be released. “It came out sounding good,” Tom explains, “But not like us.” Their critically acclaimed debut EP, Get Bleak, released on Madrid indie Bobo Integral (Tim Cohen, Massage) in 2019 and re-released on Carpark in 2021 with three additional songs, was originally recorded with live drums—“We’ve had rotating members ever since we’ve been a band. We’ve got Spinal Tap-level drummers at this point,” Evan is quick to point out. That EP, too, was redone—and with a drum machine, built from demos recorded in Evan’s bedroom, revealing the key to Ducks Ltd.’s sound: simple charms, just like the music that inspired it, and a project best served when it’s just the two of them trusting the intensity of their creative relationship. It’s worked out: Ducks Ltd. have played gigs with The Goon Sax, Weyes Blood and Juan Waters; they’ve received glowing praise in publications like Pitchfork, The A.V. Club and NME. But it’s their debut LP, Modern Fiction and its masterful melodies and depressive fun that confirms it: great things are here, and sometimes, all you need is a good friend to realize it.