After a series of successful mild pop-rock albums, Real Estate moved in a more mature artistic direction on “Atlas,” released March 4 through Domino Record Company.
The album was announced Jan. 14 following the band’s posting a series of photos on Instagram. The first single off the album, “Talking Backwards,” was released shortly after on the band’s website. On the surface, the guitar is similar, the singer’s tenor’s the same, but the emotion has changed.
I liked the band’s earlier work because in it embodied the embrace of relaxation and escape from the inevitable anxiety and tension of college life.
Compared to its previous albums, the changes are subtle and felt emotionally more than noticed technically. The past two albums dealt with the carefree bliss of summer, while “Atlas” moves on to the calm of autumn, looking back and asking what comes next.
Real Estate’s recent release has a feeling of growing up and moving forward, and the uncertainty associated with that.
In an interview on Stereogum.com, lead songwriter Martin Courtney said “there’s definitely more mellow than upbeat during this album.”
About his marriage he said, “once that happened, I found myself thinking more about where my life was going and where it was at, thinking about plans and kids. That definitely comes into the lyrics.”
The album’s style is soft and minimalistic, focusing on the importance of discretion in making music. It never feels overdone, or that Real Estate is trying too hard to make you feel a certain way. Band members are not telling you their emotions, but rather showing them.
It’s not an album you play on your spring break road trip, like their previous two, but something you listen to through
your headphones on a late night writing an essay. This is when the majority of my existential crises take place, and it is at these times that this album swoops in to save me from my frustration.
Though mellow at times, “Atlas” isn’t without an upbeat track. “Primitive” is wistful and dreamy, a song about contentment in not knowing where you’re headed and enjoying the present.
“Atlas” is available on iTunes for $9.99, Dominorecordco.us for $12 and the vinyl LP edition is $20.