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On Real Estate's third LP Atlas, the New Jersey soft rock group has turned their signature style upside-down. Their eternal summer has come to an end and the blissful, insouciant nostalgia that defined their career up until now has given way to introspection, confusion, and longing.
The smooth, jangling guitar rhythms that gave 2011’s Days its charming, 78-degrees-Fahrenheit feel take on more minor chords to accompany stories about leaving home, growing up, and desperately trying to figure out relationships. The hazy, dream-pop synth pads evoke the feeling of looking forward at an anxious future rather than back at a rose-tinted past. Even the album’s sunniest track, the single cut “Talking Backwards," is wrought with heartbreaking indecision.
Yet the band’s beloved, wistful sound remains largely unchanged in a way that reflects a change of perspective more than a dramatic reversal of character.
Some might criticize Real Estate’s songs for sounding overly samey, but there’s a familiar comfort and sincerity that this consistency communicates, a sense of moving forward without giving up oneself. And with their added dose of worried emotionality, Real Estate have crafted the best-sounding version of themselves yet.
Favorite tracks: Had To Hear, Talking Backwards, The Bend