By. Keon Rose
On first listen Real Estate’s Atlas, is like having a delightful dream. It’s so full of bliss and softness, that one floats through the album more than listens to it. This dream like quality is clearly what the band is going for, and they absolutely nail it. The problem with this specific dream, like many dreams really, is waking up from the dream. It makes less sense when you’re conscious and it’s not quite as fascinating as you thought it was. It is by no means a nightmare, but it’s just not very interesting.
Real Estate is a band from Ridgewood, New Jersey. Their music hasn’t changed very much from their self-titled debut album in 2009, although that was much more lo-fi. Since then the band has released another album, Days, in 2011 which suffers from the same forgettable-ness that their debut and Atlas do.
Lead guitarist and singer Martin Courtney’s vocals are airy and nostalgic due, in part, to his laid back delivery and the constant reverb his voice is coated in throughout the album. If there’s one thing this album does well, it’s capturing nostalgia. Not just with Courtney’s voice but with his lyrics as well. In the track Talking Backwards, Courtney sounds almost frustrated with a love interest that he can’t seem to communicate with. The feeling of sadness at his inability to do so is palpable. Matthew Mondanile, the second guitarist, is urgently plucking away adding to the song’s sense of futility.
Unfortunately, the moments that are this well crafted and purposeful, are few and far between. Atlas isn’t a sloppy album but, is so self-indulgent in it’s dreaminess that there are moments that are supposed to be blissful where nothing at all is really happening. The fourth track on the album April’s Song is the perfect example of this. It sounds nice but ultimately meanders and wastes the opportunity to develop into anything of consequence.
If Atlas is supposed to be a dream land it’s a fine one, it’s just not a dream worth remembering.