Fire Note Says: Real Estate let you drift off with Atlas’ smooth and calm climate.
Album Review: If it’s not broke don’t fix it – just tweak it. That is the main story behind Real Estate’s third record Atlas. The New Jersey group is back with an album that takes their tighter and more refined approach found on Days (2011) to a different level by melting down their pop gems into a much more mature and even tone listen.
This softened approach can be heard in the first guitar strums on opener “Had To Hear” which drifts by like a warm breeze. Simple chords for a simple beginning before a pleasant steady drum beat kicks in gives you a first indication of where Atlas is going to take you. When you combine this with singer Martin Courtney’s reserved vocals it creates an intriguing blend that works well just to absorb. “Past Lives” continues the drift as Real Estate takes their time for every piece. They don’t rush, they don’t fret and they never panic. The song even takes an instrumental minute before its finish to offer some sprawling lush guitar work that will impress you before Courtney closes things with a quick line.
This mid-tempo to low-tempo pace fills Atlas as it never raises its voice. This may have some fans of their first two records hoping for a few more foot tappers but overall Real Estate make this style work with a more contemplative approach to their lyrics. Like on “Horizon” when Courtney sings “Just over the horizon; That’s where I always think you’ll be; It’s always so surprising; To find you right there next to me.” Or, on the album closer, “Navigator,” the last delivered line is “The endless life’s just shining in; And I have no idea where the days went.” That is an example of the deeper thoughts found here on Atlas and as you take in this final moment it all comes together and connects.
I don’t think Atlas quite meets the sophistication of Days but it is close. Real Estate hits you with music here that sounds effortless and succeeds every time you spin it. Atlas is filled with indie rock lullabies that calm all emotions and highlight Real Estate’s strong move forward as they continue to set trends within the scene.
Key Tracks: “Had To Hear”, “Talking Backwards”, “Crime”
Artists With Similar Fire: Luna / Yo La Tengo / The Ocean Blue
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– Reviewed by Christopher Anthony