It’s really quite a shame that Ducktails has to be considered a side-project; surely there are others out there who would absolutely enjoy more production from Mathew Mondanile of Real Estate. Sure, he’s got loads of work, not just 7″s, under his belt, but his latest opus, Ducktails III: Arcade Dynamics, is so wonderful that it’s quite hard not to beg and plead for more.
Given, some might look at the tracklisting and see some oddballs, such as the opener “In the Swing” or “Little Window.” Such songs are barely blips on Arcade Dynamics as a whole, yet they definitely serve a purpose, providing momentary soundscapes from which you can venture deeper into the underbelly of the album. So don’t let yourself get caught skipping some of these elemental pieces.
“Hamilton Road” is precisely as advertised, a song built for the road. Something about this songs gentle guitar work and barely audible lyrics really provides for genuine pop moments, the sort one would want as they head out on a long drive to clear some cobwebs out of your head. You can continue this journey immediately with “Sprinter,” a song that seems to sprawl further and further into field of pop with repeated listens. Three songs in, and you’ve probably turned off the highway and found yourself cruising below the speed limit on some farm road to nowhere.
MM, or Ducktails, oddly manages to squeeze a lifetime of pop enjoyment into extremely short spans of time. “Sunset Liner” and “Don’t Make Plans” do a phenomenal job of packing all these carefully crafted moments into a span just over two minutes. Its full of guitar work that seems both intricate and delicate, yet understated, immersing every listener in a gentle trance of sorts; one that rewards you each time you fall deeper into its path. For some reason, Arcade Dynamics, manages to clean out your mind, which is peculiar, if and only for the fact that it seems so simple. Perhaps that’s it; simplicity often provides the most impact.
While some might think it strange that such an elegant piece of bedroom pop would reference Seinfeld, yet alone pull if off with success, but that’s precisely what Ducktails does. As the guitar solos in mid-track, providing listeners with just faint hints of sunshine, you can certainly see what sort of time led to such construction and craftwork. Each note seems purposefully placed, draped across other various notes in an effort to maximize the final product. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve already listened to “Art Vandelay.”
Closing track “Porch Projector” lurks near the end, and that’s probably the most fitting place for it; it doesn’t detract or add from the collection on Arcade Dynamics as a whole. If anything, the song, like the album, just takes you into the realms of wherever you wish to be. It isn’t often that I am swept away in the mental and emotional level simultaneously by a record, but Ducktails has accomplished such a wondrous feat, only to return me back to my reality every 35 minutes.
Download: Ducktails – Killin’ the Vibe [MP3]