Real Estate - Atlas
- Malcolm Jack
- 21 February 2014
A shimmery, woozy slice of hazy jangle pop from Martin Courtney and co
Going on three years now since Real Estate’s last album Days parked itself on your stereo and refused to budge, at last comes something to dislodge it – its every-bit-as-addictive successor Atlas. Few contemporaries top this New Jersey group – now grown to a five-piece with the addition of keyboardist Matt Kallman – for sheer all-moods, all-weather, all-hours listenability. Nor it seems – now three records and five-years deep into their career, with much great stuff arriving in parallel too from guitarist Matt Mondanile’s not-dissimilar side-project Ducktails – for simple consistency.
Steeped in Byrds-y jangle-pop classicism and such summery warmth you can practically smell hot pavement wafting from your speakers throughout, like Days, this is hardly revolutionary stuff. But then neither is Atlas necessarily a genre piece. With a horizontally laidback weave of guitars and bass, opener ‘Had To Hear’ reintroduces a band who struck on a subtly distinctive signature sound pretty much straight from the off with their self-titled 2009 debut, and have since set themselves to developing its textures, tones, shades and simple detail, while steadily growing its timeless appeal. Felt-style jangly instrumental jam ‘April’s Song’ – an instrumental being the traditional centrepiece of every Real Estate album to date – expresses wordlessly a sense of carefree majesty that other bands can expend whole albums trying to capture.
‘Talking Backwards’ is possibly Real Estate’s best single yet, a shimmering muse on the frustrations of long-distance romance and making sense of vivid dreams set to chiming and darting melodies. ‘The Bend’ resolves on a phase-washed wave of gentle Beatles-y psychedelia. Conjuring scenes of bunking off ‘out the backdoor’ to stare at shadows and wander aimlessly to the edge of town, shallow sigh of a closer ‘Navigator’ could practically be the stoned young suburban daydreamer’s lament, as Martin Courtney sings in his uniquely woozy way: ‘The day is young but I’m already spent, I have no idea where the time went.’ Several repeat spins of Atlas later, you’ll be wondering where the time went too.