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Accuracy • Independence • Integrity

October 22, 2017   |   Ithaca, NY

Life & Culture

Review: Real Estate moves into new territory

In Mind

Real Estate

 

On March 17, New Jersey indie band Real Estate released its fourth full-length album just in time for spring. “In Mind” is a stellar combination of leisurely beats and listless melodies, perfect for breezy drives with the windows down and warm, barefoot afternoons.

The first track, “Darling,” fades in with the ambient, fuzzy sound of synthesizers that makes way for a sunny guitar melody. It is arguably the strongest track on the album, as its melodies are not only infectious but brilliantly written. Instrumental harmonies gradually layer on top of one another, creating a cheerful, psychedelic groove. As the wave of sound recedes, a catchy bassline emerges and Martin Courtney’s languid vocals come in with “The black and yellow finches/ That nest in our new ferns/ Which hang upon our front porch/ Wait for the warm sun to return.” “Impatiently, as I wait for you,” he repeats in the chorus. The excited, anticipatory sound of “Darling” is reminiscent of the smell of melting snow in the early days of spring. It signals the start of a fresh, new album.

Next, “Serve the Song” begins with fuzzy, “wah-wah” guitar effects similar to the kaleidoscopic sounds of jam band Tame Impala. As intricate guitar lines weave around Courtney’s vocal melodies, the song inches along at a slow, steady 4/4 time. It ends with a single, bright chord that fades into silence.

The album picks up again with “Stained Glass,” a lighthearted piece that sounds like a nod to The Beatles. In between verses, it picks up into a summery jam. Slow, romantic “After the Moon” passes in an easy, 6/8 lilt as Courtney coos over the soft, swirling sounds of the guitars. Though this piece seems to remain steady and static, a brief moment of silence toward the end of the song brilliantly tricks the listener. Instrumentals fade in with a different melody and time, proving this piece to be as dynamic as the others. “Two Arrows” begins with a catchy bassline accented by the soft taps of cymbals before the rest of the band comes in. Vocal harmonies paint the song with soft, relaxed sweeps. Instrumentals make way for a slow, sultry guitar solo that takes its time guiding the listener toward the end of the song.

“White Light” contrasts the heavy distortion of “Two Arrows” with clean, bright acoustic guitar. Though “White Light” is glittering and unhurried, the lyrics allude to restlessness and wanderlust. “I just wish I had some place else to move/ To tell you the truth,” Courtney sings. Next, “Holding Pattern” takes on a groovier feel as Courtney’s voice leads the listener through a hypnotic trip complete with swirling synths and reverb-heavy guitar effects. These two pieces contrast one another while still sounding like part of a uniform masterpiece.

“Time” takes on an intentionally cliche, tropical feel with the syrupy sounds of Hawaiian steel guitars sliding from note to note. Drum beats give the song a corny bossa nova vibe. It’s obvious the members of Real Estate do not take themselves too seriously, as they are able to craft perfect quirkiness and musical genius out of cliche. A keyboard comes in at the end, making way for a brief guitar solo that ends the song brightly. “Diamond Eyes” completely contrasts the rest of the album as it takes on the simplicity of a 1960s folk song. Bassist Alex Bleeker wrote this piece, and it stands out from the intricate, psychedelic pieces on the rest of the album. “It’s a time to be humble, it’s a time to be free/ It’s a time to raise our voices loud and not go quietly,” the lyrics announce. “Diamond eye will not go quietly,” Bleeker repeats at the end of the song. Though the lyrics are cryptic, they convey an unmistakable mood of hope and tenacity. “Same Sun” passes gently and easily as vocal harmonies and catchy guitar lines make the song feel relaxed and buoyant.

The album ends with a gentle, optimistic piece. “Saturday” begins with the hollow, lonely timbre of a grand piano but soon picks up to sound like the rest of the sunny album. The carefree melody frolics, twirls and leads the listener to a bright ending that fades into an ambient single chord. The dynamics of this piece end the album as strongly as it began.

Real Estate’s infectious melodies burst with exuberance in “In Mind,” making it hard to not bob along to this album. Though some of the songs sound similar and seem to blend together, Real Estate makes this uniform style work, as the album takes on an air of leisure. Time seems to melt away as the 11 tracks of “In Mind” pass like a balmy summer breeze. Real Estate has thawed through the bitter cold of winter, replacing it with warmth, joy and vibrance.