There's always one big peril to the "solo project", essayed here by Real Estate guitarist Matt Mondanile. If the songs were that good, why wouldn't you take them to your main band? The obverse of that, though, is that you get albums that skip unconcernedly across genres, refreshingly free of the need to meet expectations. The fourth album under the Ducktails name is more of a band effort than heretofore, but that hasn't restrained Mondanile, who seems to have wanted to divide The Flower Line between gentle psychedelic pop (as on Ivy Coloured House and Planet Phom, which bears the imprint of New Zealand's Flying Nun label) and wine-bar funk-pop (Under Cover sounds uncannily like Orange Juice when Edwyn Collins was trying his best to be conventional). Assistant Director staggers oddly off in the direction of house without quite making it to the front door. The divide in styles is the problem: two is enough to prevent a clear personality shining through, but not enough to give it a sense of adventure. As pleasant – and as unnecessary – as whipped cream on your hot chocolate.
Michael Hann is a freelance writer, and former music editor of the Guardian