if you don’t count his dozens of cassette releases, Ducktails III: Arcade Dynamics is Matthew Mondanile's third proper album, but the mention of "arcade" in the album title might be deceiving. Instead of continuing in the synthesized chillwave tradition of Landscapes, for this release the Real Estate guitarist takes a step back from electronics, and records conventional two- or three-chord lo-fi pop songs to 8-track with organic instruments. Guitars are in the foreground, along with a traditional bass and drum setup. This is a pretty radical departure for Ducktails. Dimestore keyboards and Casio beats are left by the wayside to make the music comparable to that of Kurt Vile or a Calvin Johnson side project (take your pick, add delay and flanger pedals, and you have the idea). There were hints of this direction on prior albums, and now, the song structures have been consolidated into tight little numbers played in a washed-out basement vibe, complete with slap-back vocals. Characteristically, Mondanile's outings have a sketchpad feel to them, and there are quite a few half-finished ideas onboard, including a dreamy ten-minute outro of simple fingerpicking to the echoes of faraway fireworks. However, a few standouts bring Arcade Dynamics to life, namely the sweet, Seinfeld-referencing “Art Vandelay” and “Killin the Vibe,” which finds the likely cohort Panda Bear providing a backbeat and warm vocal harmonies.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Jason Lymangrover