Real Estate Keep In Mind What’s Working For Them
As scheduled, three years after the release of Atlas came Real Estate’s highly anticipated fourth album, In Mind. Martin Courtney and friends have proven time and again that they know how to craft simple, yet stunning indie rock songs. Faced with the departure of guitarist Matt Mondanile, who left to pursue Ducktails full-time, Real Estate had some holes to fill in their lineup before recording. Julian Lynch came in on guitar and fit right into Real Estate’s signature hazy sound, and Matt Kallman returned on keys for the recording of In Mind, which was then released on Domino Records this March.
The hit lead single,”Darling,” opens the album, setting the stage for active guitar work and catchy rhythms. The lyrics don’t come in until about a quarter of the song has passed. It’s a strong opening track that’s fun that has us singing “impatiently / as I wait for you” along with the chorus. Courtney masters counterpoint in “Serve the Song” with strong guitar and a complimentary vocal melodies. So far, it’s off to a good start.
Simple, yet relatable imagery is scattered throughout the album. “I’m trying to build a bridge / as purple light silhouettes the ridge / daydream the whole night through / trust me, the moon will abandon you,” Courtney sings in “After the Moon,” which deftly uses the soft sway of a two-against-three rhythm. He coos, “The sky was wild with circumstance / the ground littered with chance / I’ll meet you in the morning / beyond that, I’ve got no plans,” in the seemingly uninteresting “Two Arrows.” But don’t judge this one too early, because about halfway in it breaks into a repetitive yet epic jam, featuring augmented constant arpeggios, eventually adding in distorted minor iv chord slow arpeggios that slowly build to the verge of noise and then disappear. It’s about as ballsy as Real Estate can get, and it’s stunning. The psych-rock feel of “Holding Pattern” is a less familiar sound with added synths and robust instrumentation featured in the chorus. Courtney sings, “Where was I Tuesday night? / where was I this morning / what this is is not real life / at least it isn’t boring,” invoking scenes of a life that is flashing by frantically. “Diamond Eyes” is to In Mind as “Wonder Years” was to Days. The Alex Bleeker song sticks out as a happy-go-lucky throw-away. “Same Sun” is bright with iridescent guitars and that classic Real Estate melodic, key-changing line. “There will always be a trace of this place in me / ‘Green River’ still runs under that same sun,” Courtney sings at the close of the song, realizing that some things don’t have to change. A brief instrumental piece chimes in between bridging into the final track, “Saturday,” in a nostalgic return to Real Estate’s original sound.
The beauty of In Mind is Real Estate’s ability to stick with a sound that’s been working for them, while gently pushing themselves out of their comfort zone. While Courtney’s lyrics can seem repetitive at times, and their melodic hooks are often recycled, what’s really clever is the layering of counterpoint. There isn’t just one hum-worthy line — the guitar tunes are equally interesting and complex, while the ultimate sound that’s accomplished is stripped and focused. Something to keep In Mind — this album is no filler for a one-hit wonder.