Jersey Devil is Matt Mondanile's sixth LP as Ducktails but notably his first since leaving his post as founding lead guitarist of Real Estate following touring for their third album, Atlas. Along with frontman Martin Courtney, much of that band's sunshiny, prism-like guitar sound certainly can be attributed to Mondanile given that, even with its more fragmented, lo-fi disposition, Ducktails has it, too. At the same time that it moves the moniker out from under the "side project" label, Jersey Devil marks a return of sorts for Mondanile -- both physically and, to a lesser degree, musically. He began writing and recording the album in his Los Angeles studio space before relocating to his hometown of Ridgewood, New Jersey, where he finished it in his mother's basement. The resulting tracks take on a slightly more ramshackle demeanor than his prior two albums (The Flower Lane and St. Catherine), while, for the most part, maintaining their full-band posture. To that end, collaborators here include, among others, co-producer John Anderson (Girls, Nick Waterhouse), drummer John da Costa, and Parasol bass player Chi Yoon Hae, who flew in from South Korea for sessions. Representative results include "In the Hallway," with its familiar guitar eddies of glimmering complex chords and conversational-type vocals, and the synth poppier "Keeper of the Garden," which still settles into contemplative, soft-focus verses. While not his most consistent crop of songs, light brushes with Steely Dan-like jazz-rock and bolder synths add flavor to a still distinctive sound that's likely to be welcomed by fans.
AllMusic Review by Marcy Donelson