Real Estate - In Mind - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Real Estate - In Mind

by James Weiskittel Rating:8 Release Date:2017-03-17

Over the course of their three full-lengths, Real Estate has succeeded in establishing their own identity in what are otherwise crowded artistic waters; a whimsical mix of jangly pop and moody melodies that set the perfect stage for Martin Courtney’s wistful tales of suburban melancholy.  And it all came together on the band’s last release, 2014’s Atlas, which saw the Jersey-by-way-of-Brooklyn based group’s songwriting take a huge leap forward, a progression that is continued on the group’s forthcoming In Mind.

Whether it’s directly tied to last year’s departure of founding guitarist Matt Mondanile (apparently wanting to focus on his Ducktails project), the addition of an up-and-coming producer (Cole M. Greif-Neill) to the mix, or merely a natural progression, In Mind finds Real Estate stretching out in lots of new directions, marrying production polish with a sophisticated batch of songs.

The album opens with “Darling”, a mid-tempo gem that shows all the key ingredients are still in place: jangly arpeggios, stuttering drums, and Courtney’s understated vocals augmented with subtle waves of synth and a mix that reveals a new degree of shine and clarity.  The cleverly entitled “Serve the Song” could very well be the band’s modus operandi, while gems like the driving “Stained Glass” and conversely chill “After the Moon” show how the band has expanded the spectrum of what constitutes their ‘sound’.

The album’s centerpiece, the dreamy “Two Arrows” is an impressive feat in songwriting as not a second of the song’s nearly seven minutes feels wasted.  The track crescendos into an anti-arena solo of sorts that elicits visions of a ‘bizarro’ Hey Jude.  Following a front-half filled with new and different shades, there’s still tons of familiar mid-tempo pop here as well as songs like “White Light”, “Time” and “Same Sun” could easily have been outtakes from either of the band’s last two albums.  The album closes confidently with “Saturday”, a three-minute slice of power-pop sandwiched between two halves of one of the band’s most alluring instrumentals.                                                                                                                                                              

For all of the new sheen that Real Estate has applied to their sound, In Mind succeeds at never losing track of the foundation that band spent three albums crafting.  Whether this new version of Real Estate will be seen as an improvement upon the past is, of course, a matter of perspective, but regardless of how you measure it, In Mind is a solid collection of well-crafted songs and easily Real Estate’s most realized album yet.

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