Review Summary: Innate.
Sometimes in life stress gets the better of us, and when it does, you need to retreat to a place of comfort in your mind in order to gather your thoughts. It might be that you need to escape a sharp annoyance like spilling your coffee, or it might be an altogether more strenuous worry like juggling exams, but whatever the event, occasionally you just need to close your eyes and imagine that idyllic place where everything just seems better
. I like to imagine lying on a deserted beach where the waves casually lap at my toes, and ice cool beverages refill themselves without the need for human interaction. Whatever your fantasy, it isn’t complete without an appropriate soundtrack; and playing narrator to my imaginary paradise – the blissful musings of Real Estate.
Real Estate’s brand of deliciously uplifting and inoffensive indie rock is delivered through warm, dreamy guitars and subdued yet efficient drumming which combine to create an addictive, summery ambience. Their sophomore release Days exuded a confident calm and dabbled in the nostalgic, with 70’s influences underpinning their beach friendly sound. This lush tone has been maintained on Atlas
, and it has been solidified further through the full time recruitment of Jackson Pollis on drums and Matt Kallman (formerly of Girls) on keys. Their inclusions have served to buffer and polish an already established sound, and combined with the crisper, cleaner production that’s utilized on Atlas
, Real Estate will undoubtedly win scores of new fans, especially given their willingness to make the road their home. Though neither of the new recruits takes centre stage on Atlas
– this is left once again to vocalist Martin Courtney and guitarist Matt Mondanile – their nuances permit the band a more wholesome feel. This is evidenced instantly on the measured album opener “Had to Hear” where the extended outro benefits from Pollis’ expertise, and later on the assured instrumental “April’s Song” where both the band’s chemistry and efficacy are showcased.
But as charming as this happiness is, Real Estate never allows it to become all encompassing or kitschy, and this can be attributed to the nonchalant vocals of Martin Courtney. Crooning against consistently upbeat backdrops, Courtney’s understated vocal delivery tactfully mellows out the bright instrumentation behind him, never allowing the songs to reach nauseatingly cheery levels. This is typified by the up tempo numbers “Talking Backwards” and “Horizon,” where his soft delivery counteracts the bubbly guitar work of Matt Mondanile dancing underneath, keeping the songs importantly stabilized. By striking this delicate balance it allows a feeling of sheer contentment to reign throughout Atlas
, and it’s this care-free, jovial, but always grounded atmosphere which really lends Real Estate their success and originality.
Real Estate has settled into a sweet spot already in their short career, and quite rightly they’re showing no signs of wanting to change their winning formula. By their own admission they’re making the music that’s in their DNA; music in which the major is embraced and the minor is taboo, and just like the releases that preceded it, Atlas
feels organic and simply effortless despite its intricacies. The most refreshing thing however, is that it’s not at all difficult to imagine that Real Estate would be making this music together if they were playing for just a room of people, for millions, or for nobody but themselves.