Real Estate is:
Martin Courtney – vocals, guitar
Matt Mondanile – guitar
Alex Bleaker – bass
Jackson Pollis – drums
Jonah Maurer – keyboards
Real Estate – Atlas
1. Had To Hear
2. Past Lives
3. Talking Backwards
4. April's Song
5. The Bend
8. How Might I Live
Running time: 38:18
“I can not come back to this neighbourhood / Without feeling my old age,” reflects singer Martin Courtney on the opening life of “Past Lives,” the second track from Real Estate's third full length album. The line perfectly encapsulates everything about Atlas that sets it apart from the band's previous records. Real Estate has always been a band that made breezy, easy-listening indie rock and roll music with songs that passed by effortlessly through the early summer evenings and into the night while you and your loved ones drank cider in the back yard and laughed into the early hours. Real Estate have always made fantastic background music, that has a vibe that you can really just chill to, without having to do anything thinking. They're a band that pushes your worries away, even if only for an hour or so.
Now everything's changed. Atlas is a record that, yes, suits such a summer evening if that's all you want from it. But if you're willing to immerse yourself deeper, all of a sudden you will find a record that sees Courtney explode in a cataclysm of emotion and regret. That opening line of “Past Lives” tells the tale of a man returning to his roots and not liking what he discovers. While the guitar wails still glisten in all their sun-kissed glory, you get the impression that the sun has only recently risen from behind the trees and the hours before that were dark, lonely ones. We've only just begun to come out the other side and there's many adventures before us. “April's Song” is a fantastic slab of radio-friendly psychedelica that would suit an endless drive around the dessert with no surrounding scenery, as it places all these wonderful images in your head of whatever it is you desire. On previous efforts, the music was almost lazy, drifting along aimlessly in the wind. Now the music glistens in the sun and pulls you along with it, a true irresistible force.
It's hard to pinpoint exactly what has changed so dramatically to produce such a shimmering record but one thing that is obvious is that lyrically, the songs have opened up all the more. Courtney's vocals are all the more knowing than they ever were before as he conducts some truly marvellous tracks. The wonderful pop sensibilities of “The Bend” bounce along in spite of Courtney's melancholy vocal but the contrasting sounds actually fit together organically. Such regret-tinged lyricism as in the aforementioned “Past Lives” and the irresistible “Crime” make for a more well-rounded listening experience, one that tells a story rather than just provides background music to somebody else's. “Toss and turn all night / Don't know how to make it right,” worries Courtney on “Crime,” and it's clear he's many worries on his mind, but you come out of the record knowing that any such worries will soon be cleared up and there's something glorious on the other side.
Real Estate, as a unit, grew up in suburban New Jersey, and you get that vibe here. It's one of those things that shines through their music without any effort – their roots. You can here in the lush sound of Mondanile's guitar and the free-form bass of Bleaker – it's an easy-going atmosphere that has always been present on the band's music. But seemingly only after removing themselves from their home for an extended period of time have they been able to go back and reflect upon the men they have become and channel that feeling of growth into a record that speaks to its listeners in such a poignant way. With themes of wanderlust, the passing of time and never really knowing where you're going, it becomes apparent that as a band, Real Estate is now enjoying the fruits of its labours, making melodic and melancholy records that puncture clear blue skies in such away it makes the audiences' heads turn upwards to reveal an unholy understanding. Where we all go from here is uncertain, but it's obvious we should basking in the glory of the present, and the same applies to Real Estate.
Real Estate - “Talking Backwards”
The 411: The third album by Real Estate, Atlas sees the band mature into not just a group of great, young musicians, but into brilliant song-writers with the ability to paint vivid pictures that can take you right out of your own little world and place you right in the middle of theirs, however foreign it may seem. As we enter the first few weeks of Spring, it's painfully obvious to me that this is a record to be blared out of a bedroom window while the family is enjoying the sunshine out in the back garden. There's plenty of melancholy numbers here, and regret is the most common theme linking the tracks, but at the end of every desperate vocal is a glimmering ray of light that pierces through each and every track on this collection and that makes for an alarming upbeat and hopeful record, the likes of which Real Estate has never quite reached before.