Real Estate
Atlas


3.5
great

Review

by Vincent A. USER (10 Reviews)
March 5th, 2014 | 12 replies


Release Date: 03/04/2014 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A more personal and textured affair than Real Estate's prior records – but at what cost?

Real Estate's 2012 album Days opened with lead single "Easy," a sugar coated guitar-pop track built for sunny days and road trips. Amidst the high-pitched guitar squeals and lo-fi sonics, lead singer Martin Courtney rejoices, "I was just floating / on an inner tube / in the sun." But if Days takes place up in the clouds, just two years later Courtney and Co. find themselves back on the ground with their latest release, Atlas .

The metaphor isn't meant to a signal a fall from grace or a dip in quality, by any means. But those yearning for the idyllic visions of escapism and worry free pop of yesteryear are in for a bit of a surprise. On lead-off track "Had to Hear," the band's signature guitar twang is undercut with a degree of melancholy, and the concerns are just a bit weightier this time around. While prior lyricism has never really exuded confidence per se, much of Atlas feels particularly ponderous and muddled. "I had to hear you just to feel near you / I know it's not true / But it's been so long," Courtney says, worryingly.

Yet, much of the album's achievements come by means of a newfound sense of sonic ambition. While the album shares many physical pieces with its predecessors – falsetto guitars, simple song structures, and reverb heavy lyrics – their means of arrangement demonstrates a desire for exploration that was all but absent on prior releases. "April's Song," is a solely instrumental piece, yet feels perhaps more rewarding than "Kinder Blumen," a track of a similar vein on Days . The comparison between the two tracks perhaps highlights the most significant disparity between the records respective aesthetic achievements. Atlas is decidedly more emotive and personal, and as a result, the barrier of entry feels a bit steeper. But its demand for a greater degree of attentiveness results in a deeper and more intricate listen.

Although highlights like "Talking Backwards," "Crime," and the aforementioned "April's Song" are perfect examples of the sonic middle-ground between both records, it's a sweet spot that the record perhaps doesn't achieve quite often enough. Its in this sense that Real Estate's "progression" doesn't feel as flawlessly executed as it could have been. The latter stretch of the album isn't lackluster by any means, but against the record's comparative high-points, it feels flat and uninspired. As it turns out, immediacy is still Real Estate's greatest strength, and though their increasingly dynamic sound often provides a more conceptually satisfying listen, it sometimes sacrifices the core of what it is that works. It has its hiccups, but Atlas is a work of singular ambition and character, and one that feels necessary within Real Estate's still young and limited discography.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
Pavelboca
March 4th 2014


82 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Relatively short review, but tried a sorta different stylistic approach here. How does it sound, guys?


Pavelboca
March 4th 2014


82 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Oh, and I have a few albums to review on deck, but any suggestions??? I'm looking for new stuff

Propose
March 5th 2014


821 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

If this album had any less dynamics it would be a rock. Stagnant, adult contemporary to mind your brain to while you save big on groceries and travelling fast by elevator. I'm sure MTV will make bold strides to remind us all of the imaginary textures here within in the coming weeks.

Pavelboca
March 5th 2014


82 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Adult Contemporary? MTV referenced as a source of music criticism? Are you a time traveler from the early 90's?

Propose
March 5th 2014


821 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

This is the here and now and these are the realities of real estate's vapid career as the middle ground between a safer beach house and white noise.

TheYeti
March 5th 2014


45 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

Boring album.

ZackSh33
March 5th 2014


373 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I liked the album. It's less wishy-washy and more direct than their earlier work.

Also, you start off two consecutive paragraphs with "Yet," but still a solid review

mryrtmrnfoxxxy
March 5th 2014


13468 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

'Adult Contemporary? MTV referenced as a source of music criticism? Are you a time traveler from the early 90's?'

lol

unaMUSEd
March 5th 2014


1174 Comments


Welcome back Pavel.

Great review as always.

Digging: Hands Like Houses - Unimagine

thelastsignal
March 5th 2014


1683 Comments


"Its in this sense that Real Estate's "progression" doesn't feel as flawlessly executed as it could have been."
*It's

Just a tiny-ass mistake that's inconsequential. Awesome review, I pos'd. Never heard of these guys before, and I don't really think that they're my cup of tea.

Digging: The Banner - Greying

alachlahol
March 5th 2014


7515 Comments


probly gonna like this cause i like real estates other stuff!! and also have a love for crappy vapid surf tunes i just cant stop listening to them!!!!

IsItHype
March 6th 2014


7 Comments


I'm a huge real estate fan (they make superb car driving music). And great review, as always.



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