Real Estate - In Mind (Domino Records, 2017)
Real Estate has been around just long enough, along with a following that is just intense enough, to make their new album In Mind, one of the most anticipated albums of the year. With that in mind, I’d like to assure you that most people will not be disappointed … though I for one refuse to use that subjective descriptor so many reviewers seem locked into using, “more mature,” as it says nothing and means even less, especially with all that’s happened to the band as of late.
What I will say is that Real Estate have been touting In Mind as being a new direction for the band, though with the album filled with all the hooks you’ve come to expect and love, along with the jangle pop and pastoral guitar laden arrangements, complete with a splash of melancholy, Real Estate for this reviewer, offers up just about what I had expected. My main issue with the band is that I don’t find all of their material to be on the same or even par, meaning that I, like so many others, are resolved to keeping perhaps four of the eleven tracks, and adding them to an ever growing compilation of first rate songs that fill that light breezy spot in my alternative music collection.
All of that being said, I’ve been spending a bit more time with this outing, and may have to adjust that number of great songs up a notch or two, as Real Estate are no longer the same band who we’ve come to know and love. Since the release of Atlas in 2014, the band has undergone some serious changes in their personal lives as well as in the structure of the band. First, Martin Courtney, the group’s primary song writer had become a father and moved to upstate New York, while Alex Bleeker grabbed his bass and touched down in California. Then there’s Matt Mondanile, lead guitars and co-founding member who decided to step out of the picture all together, with the remaining members welcoming guitarist Julian Lynch to the band as a full time member, a man who’s bounced around the edges for awhile, but never had a seat at the table until now. Yes, that’s a fair amount of changes for one band to absorb at this singular point in time, and it will be more than interesting to hear how Real Estate reacts and adjusts to this infusion and separation that has happened within a single breath.
It was a bit disturbing for me to hear Martin Courtney happy when the word ‘scenery’ was used to describe this album, saying, A lot of people describe the music of Real Estate as background music, which sounds like an insult, or not necessarily a compliment. I like music like that, where you can put it on and it’s a nice soundtrack to your daily tasks. I on the other hand found that statement to be rather creepy, and hopefully disingenuous, as I’m not sure that I want to own an album that from the get-go is suitable for shopping malls and grocery stores. Of course, like Oasis, Real Estate have found a formula that works for them, one that continues to breathe new life into their Beatles influences, this time with the song “Two Arrows,” that has “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)” written all over it.
On that note, for better or worse, there is a consistency to their music, making it impossible to mistake any of Real Estate’s songs as coming from any other band, which in a manner of speaking, fuels that fire for those who would say that this consistency does not make for interesting music. While all of this makes for an interesting discussion, the truth of the matter is in the listening … so you’re gonna have to tryout this laid back bit of mellowness for yourself and see just where it takes you.
*** The Fun Facts: Martin Courtney really does have a real estate license.
- Jenell Kesler
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