For a Jersey beachcomber spending bedroom hours away from his main surf rock crew to shamble out hazy, lyric-less sunglass jams called “Pizza Time” and “Surf’s Up,” Real Estate‘s pinnacle guitar man Matt Mondanile has never really aspired to take his solo project, Ducktails, seriously large. Or at at least cast any clouds over anything. When lyrics did enter the picture, they were either in blissfully indiscernible accoutrements dubbed “Wishes,” or earworm stoner be-happy-isms not concerned with anything save for a good vibe, man: [LISTEN]

Don’t go killin’, killin’ the vibe

I can’t take your lame style

Can’t you just sit a while

And try your hardest to smile

The Flower Lane, though – Mondanile’s withdrawn further into the corners of his bedroom, convinced a major label to back him (Domino) and corralled a handful of introverts to get all extrovert with the intricacies of what it really takes to be chill, dark skies included. The record – the dude’s fourth now – lifts the veil on a secret melodramatic. Splayed with glistening synth lines, female vocal duets, sax wafts and lines like “what do the street lights say to your eyes?,” it’s a shocking departure from the twenty-something’s past. “Sedan Magic” could be a rough cut from Destroyer‘s Kaputt, Cults‘ Madeline Follin healing a verse from Mondanile about ‘un-fillable voids’ and ‘never-sweet fruits’: [LISTEN]

Won’t you stay, won’t you stay for a little while

I can’t forget at all

Mondanile’s not only hung up his beach towel, but is drawing the shades to think. Real Estate tourmates Big Troubles come in to cheer things up, kicking away drum machines and foot pedals, laying down acid jazz (“Under Cover“) and funk (“Letter of Intent“) when needed. Mondanile responds with cathartic guitar solos on the heels of “there’s no more laughing me” statements (“Timothy Shy“) and “you’ll never spend another night alone” desires (“Ivy Covered House“). But amidst all of it, his eternal take-it-easy vibe is lurking around every corner, marrying bitter sentiments perfectly with sweet pop like never before. “A couple strolls hand-in-hand” on the most early Ducktails-familiar end-cap “Academy Avenue,” this is “where the students go,” he yearns, “a place where you can’t learn to know:”