The New Jersey indie classicists' third makes an early bid for one of 2014's best.
Despite a rather prosaic band name, Real Estate have an undeniable knack for lovely melody. Their preceding albums showed signs of this, but it really flowers on Atlas. Not a second is wasted as gorgeous, lush songs pile up, creating an easy flow awash with nostalgia and hope for a brighter future.
They may just get one too. Talking Backwards, for starters, is a beautiful, dreamy moment, all tumbling, warm guitar and the kind of harmonies that Teenage Fanclub continue to indulge in. It sounds like a hit, although perhaps in an alternate universe. That's just one of those things; this sort of delicate indie doesn't give the mainstream too much hassle, but the album could be a slow-burner.
Martin Courtney makes a persuasive, welcome frontman, perfectly in tune with his band's light touch, but it's guitarist Matt Mondanile who emerges the real hero. His playing on the tremolo-soothed Primitive or the sunbleached Navigator is so compelling that it can carry a song alone, and on Crime he's almost showboating, soloing like a polite rock god.
For all Mondanile's contribution, the take-home feeling is of a band that melds perfectly, making a sweet, evocative sound that cuts straight to the heart. It's great to hear Real Estate progress so – the sky's the limit.