Full disclosure, Arcade Dynamics is my first exposure to Ducktails other than a singular track featured on the Woodsist compilation Diggin’ The Universe. From what I gather, when compared with previous efforts, Arcade Dynamics is a slight departure in terms of its fullness and increased use of voice. Initial spins quickly reveal that this is very much a guitar album first and singer-songwriter second, Mondanile clearly letting his day job as guitarist with Real Estate seep into his bedroom side-project. Some of these songs, particularly those that feature vocals, are fully formed and if played live would require at least two additional band members. I couldn’t say with any great deal of certainty whether this shift is a good or bad thing but it is apparent to me that the songs that sound like traditional “songs” aren’t necessarily my favourite cuts on this album. With the exception of the happy-go-lucky ‘Killin the Vibe’ and slacker anthem ‘Don’t Make Plans’ it is the songs that lack Mondalines aloof and carefree melodies that tend to shine brightest. Take ‘Little Window’ for example, it might last less than two minutes and on any other album might be considered an interlude, but with Arcade Dynamics as a habitat it is perfectly formed and lacks nothing, especially lyrics. In fact, it is the warmth and texture of the music that feels like the focal point and the vocals where present, are often akin to an additional instrument. Album closer ‘Porch Projector’ is almost an admission of this, it’s a beautiful 11 minutes where solitude reigns over collaboration. Turns out that it is way cooler to sit and get stoned with a guitar, reverb cranked to 11, than it is to watch the fireworks (that can be heard in the distance) with everybody else. Arcade Dynamics may be a progression but every once in a while it is ok to regress, despite what your Mum might say. You would think that Real Estate provides enough scope to give any songs that Mondalines has knocking about the exposure that they deserve, I have no clue of their songwriting hierarchy though. Having said that, it’s ‘Don’t Make Plans’ that I decided to post below, a contradiction maybe, but even on this particular gem, I think the music holds its own alongside a killer hook. None of this is criticism, I’m really liking this album and there is no question, as there is with many solo projects, that its existence is not only warranted but welcomed.