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Dilettante (n.): a person with an amateur interest in the arts;
an album of postcard-length power pop songs. See also: Mo Troper IV.
Dilettante—also known as Mo Troper IV—combines decades of power-pop worship, scholarship, and penmanship into a 28-track collection of sprints. The playlist-as-album pundits might call it a data dump, but Mo brands it as a relaxed way to finish song sketches in unprecedented times. IV is a work that some of his friends call a musical, but this claim remains unverified. If there’s anybody aching to spin up a limiter-drenched production centered around scrolling a cluttered inbox for serotonin, prototype theme songs for public access shows plugged into the scene, and gasp-long dips into math rock, 1990s video game cheese, and medieval revelry, get in touch. (You might have to cut Mo’s rejected jingle for Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, even though the stage needs to hear it.)
For those less dramatically inclined, there’s plenty here to pick up the slack. Mo gushes about “The Perfect Song” with syrupy, undeniably guitar pop that’s a remarkable stand-in for the gold he describes. False showtune “Sugar and Cream” goes medium about the wizardry found in a cup of coffee. Clipped moments like the sub-minute love song “Skyscraper Sized Bong” are as ephemeral as they are effective, shoving callouts to Big Star and Teenage Fanclub into pocket- sized arrangements.Ducks Ltd.
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.)
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.
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