New Jersey natives Real Estate and their ‘things are alright but could definitely’ mind-set, have provided the soundtrack to many a barbecue for a good few years now. On ‘Atlas’ their third record out, the masters of docile-rock stick close to familiar paths, but there’s still a spring in their step…
Frontman Martin Courtney has never been the strongest vocalist but he knows his strengths and there are few outfits that sound as together as this dreamy quintet do right now. Sonically though, there are darker times afoot on this record, someone has caught fire at the summer camp and it seems only the cans of Carlsberg are left. ‘I’m out again on my own, a reflection in the chrome of an adding machine’ are the very words that open the album.
But those Real Estate fellows are far too polite to drag you down with their gloomier subject matter for too long. The jangly guitars are still dominant throughout, and incidentally much cleaner sounding this time around too. Listen to single ‘Talking Backwards’ and compare it to an effort on 2011’s Days and you’ll understand immediately.
The relationship between Matt Mondanile and Martin Courtney on this record is knitted together so tightly that on tracks like ‘The Bend’ & ‘How Might I Live’ it’s strikingly impressive, individual and effortless.
Real Estate are Suburbia embodied in sound and imagery and although that may not be your idea of fun, Atlas is a truly rewarding experience. If, for some reason after the 37 minute running time you don’t feel completely mellowed out, seek medical advice immediately.