When Ducktails unleashed The Flower Lane in early 2013, the album's dramatic shift of gears took it from Real Estate guitarist Matt Mondanile's hazy side project to a more fully fleshed-out sophisticated pop band with touches of the soft, psychedelic guitar noodling that defined Ducktails prior to that. The Flower Lane was a gorgeous and polished affair, dabbling with electronic textures and synthetic beats without ever becoming jagged in contrast to the breezy live instrumentation. Wish Hotel, the five-song EP that directly followed, is more of the same approach, this time with Mondanile giving his backing band the day off (members of Real Estate touring buds Big Troubles assisted with The Flower Lane) and recording all of the instruments himself in the style that gave birth to the earliest Ducktails cassette releases. There could be no confusing Wish Hotel for those early, shambling stretches of phased-out guitar and stony drum loops. Even at its jammiest moments, as on the two-chord amble of lazy synth pads and watery bass of "Naive Music," Mondanile sounds grown up and even more grown into his new phase of heightened production and mature songwriting. Hazy, nostalgic snapshots are one of Real Estate's specialties, and on tracks like "Tie-Dye" and "Honey Tiger Eyes," Ducktails taps into the same kind of distant impressions of fading days that his parent band does so well: roomy dual drum kits, fluttering guitars, and mumbly vocals low in the mix painting vague but beautiful portraits of suburban summer times and dazed romantic afternoons. The brevity of Wish Hotel doesn't keep it from making an impact, and any of these songs would have fit nicely among the less memorable moments of The Flower Lane. As a bridge between that album and whatever comes next, Wish Hotel works perfectly, hinting at only the slightest changes to the formula, but with differences enough to keep things from getting stale.
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AllMusic Review by Fred Thomas