In Mind Album Review
Released March 17, 2017
Genre: Dream Pop, Indie Pop, Jangle Pop, Psychedelic Pop Rock
The softly woven guitars, sweet melodies, and malaise-tainted under tones of Atlas provided some perennial songs within Real Estate’s catalog. However, the record felt stale at times – a repeat of what they had always done albeit cleaner and polished. On In Mind, the New Jersey group shift their sound a tad bit; and with a new lineup this shift does a whole lot more than you would think. It’s still the breezy, relaxed, and starry eyed Real Estate you’ve come to know and love, but the expansion of their sound opens up the fold for new depths and details that make for a refreshing and smooth listen. However, it’s done so subtly those who are familiar with their past releases are sure to hear a new sound or two.
The synths on the album opener, “Darling,” make for a more than welcome change; while “Serve The Song” showcases more psychedelic-tinged jangle pop to add texture to the simple song. “Stained Glass” explores Martin Courtney’s relationship with his surroundings, in one of the more urgent and propulsive Real Estate songs. While the weightlessness of Atlas felt calming, the driving nature of this song feels like a much needed improvement while also keeping the band in tune to their sweet melodic instincts. “Two Arrows” is a subtle, Sunday-morning ode that Courtney’s vocals ride effortlessly across. The gentle trod of its beat falls into that feeling when you’re about to fall asleep but your mind is wide awake. Real Estate’s ability to strike into that pocket of consciousness, teetering on the edge of slumber and alertness, is impressive. However, it proves to be a con in the grand scheme of things.
Real Estate’s music can’t help but feel a bit one-noter, the timbre feeling the same throughout. Now this is consistent, but it hinders any fun or surprises. “After The Moon’s” slide guitar does little to engage, and the subtle synths on “Holding Pattern” is an admirable addition to the jangly sound. “Time’s” warped (ha) production helps everything feel stilted and jarring, which proves they are preoccupied with discovering new textures to spice things up. But they’re done so subtly, the album stays pretty middle-of-the-road.
The lack of ambition in Real Estate has proven to be both a great and bad thing. It’s perfectly fine to explore this calm and serene sound that they are working towards perfecting, but to keep their music sounding tone notches apart for each album can provide very little to engage or even have listeners looking to expect something new. A common addendum to every Real Estate conversation is “so just like every Real Estate song?” Every Real Estate album comes with the same jangly swing (“Same Sun”), warm comfort (“Diamond Eyes”), and laid back demeanor (“Saturday”). The group have maintained a consistent repertoire, and their fans know what to expect. it neither offends nor lets down anyone looking for that Real Estate sound. For the best way to take in a Real Estate album is relaxing on a sunny day, or driving on a warm afternoon; neither looking for something new or radical, but merely feeling comfortable in the familiar.
FAV TRACKS: Darling, Stained Glass, Two Arrows, Diamond Eyes
LEAST FAV TRACK: After The Moon