The Toronto duo of Ducks Ltd. blends bright and breezy jangle pop with introspective themes and melancholy in their debut EP Get Bleak. This was initially released in 2019 as a four-track, but has now been re-released with three additional songs that shows a glimpse of the band’s progression as one of the most promising acts in the genre.
Tom Mcgreevy and Evan David Lewis started this project because of their passion for bands like Felt and The Go-Betweens. One can also find influences from Flying Nun and Sarah Records in their sound. This strong foundation has led them to create lovely melodies and swooning harmonies despite the deep and lonely subject matter of their songs.
This push and pull between melancholy and sweetness presents itself immediately in the title track. “Get Bleak”, which talks about the confusion and lack of direction that seldom comes with navigating through adult life. Mcgreevy sings about expectations and disappointments while a restless bounce of guitars and orchestration hums in a background. These conflicting emotions are handled with great care, which adds an emphatic note to an otherwise somber song.
The next track “Gleaming Spires” comes in with a restless rhythm and a swirl of nostalgia-soaked guitars. Its surfy elements and bouncy tempo gives off a “good-old-days” vibe while thoughtful lyrics gloss over those memories with a fleeting sigh. The tempo slows down in “Annie Forever”, a love song with soothing harmonies and a comfortable aesthetic. A cloud of gloom and disenchantment wraps around “Anhedonia”, a call back to the feelings of resentment from the opening track which is now burdened with a heavier weight on its back.
The energy picks up again as we go to the newer tracks. Already we can see Ducks Ltd. moving forward in their sound in “Oblivion”, with its bolder harmonic elements and a grand psych-inducing soundscape. “As Big as All Outside” is the strongest track of the second half, presenting existential thoughts over wistful vocals and glimmering guitars.
Despite the sadness presented in Get Bleak, there’s still a tinge of hope and moments of fun peppered all throughout. From the elaborate orchestrations that jump out of nowhere during its climactic sections or the playful rhythms presented in closer “It’s Easy”. One can’t help but have fun and find inspiration in the ideas presented by Ducks Ltd., who still manage to shine no matter how bleak things may seem.