Album Review

Atlas

Atlas

by Real Estate


Domino
7.5 / 10
1st April 2014

Reviewed by Paul Larsen


It's hard to tell if the decision to record Atlas in Wilco's Chicago studio influenced the sound of the album or if the location was chosen to match the sound. Either way, Real Estate's third record marks a change in tone for the New Jersey indie rockers. Where Days and 2009's self-titled record relied upon a certain light whimsy there's now a veneer of self-doubt that's crept in to the suburban sound they've helped create.

Key to this slight direction change is Martin Courtney's darkening language. The fragility of lines like "I don't wanna die, lonely and uptight" from 'Crime' could surely not have made the cut on the band's first two records. It's a stark change from those records but also adds a complexity which was maybe overdue.

Paradoxically to the shift in tone, the production on Atlas is cleaner and brighter than we've heard before. Both Matt Mondanile's and Courtney's guitars sit atop the mix; their open chords and light lead sections driving the record's sound. Nowhere more so than the brief instrumental, 'April's Song' which serves as a palette cleanser in between the opening stanza and the record's second half.

Though Atlas is occasionally let down by a lack of clear definition between tracks and dearth of 'go to' moments, it's an assured and beautifully created record which will appeal to the bands current fan base while deservedly picking up some new ones along the way. The leaves on their tree-lined streets may be starting to turn but Real Estate continues to impress.






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