Real Estate Shift Focus for New Album Atlas

Published: March 05, 2014
The power of Real Estates sophomore album, 2011s Days, was hidden in the same elements that many interpreted as safe. On its own, the sunshine-beckoning feel of the New Jersey bands braiding guitars always loosely played, air-tightly arranged paired with Martin Courtneys throw pillow-soft vocals suggested stakes no higher than Atlantic tide crashes at ankle depth. That was deliberate. Courtneys lyrics firmly declared a deep personal investment in the easy days, only with such gentle composure that youd sooner think he was just stoned. By never raising its voice, the album demanded we lean in to appreciate. Aimless drives through green aisles, strolls through decomposing leaves, long space-outs to the monotony of suburban landscapes. These arent moments of juvenile, indecisive navel-gazing to be derided as wasted life, Days argued. Theyre growth-fostering revelations of the gift. Its important. Its real. Thats the thing about closure: It can feel incongruously peaceful for the staggering nature of the realizations that come attached. Now, with their collective early 20s internalized and in the rearview, Real Estate shift focus to a matter with far less capacity for composed handling: looking forward. Their third LP, Atlas, trades in 20/20 hindsight for the courage of trying to grasp an endlessly unclear future. Look no further than the alarmingly forward lyric that opens side B opener Crime, one that wouldnt have been allowed within a mile of Days: Toss and turn all night/ Dont know how to make it right/ Crippling anxiety. In stark contrast to Days, Courtney is struggling with the impossibility of appreciating what he doesnt know or understand; just like Days, the laid-back tone in his voice couldnt be more misleading. (MORE: Coldplay Announces New Album for May) In line with this new focus, the chords and arrangements on Atlas are the densest Real Estate have ever attempted, shading their sunshine into something palpably more mysterious, like a sunset in inclement weather: its pretty, sure, but has abnormally complex coloration more ominous, and unique, and weird than usual. The chemistry between Courtney
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