Album Review: Real Estate – In Mind

By Jon Fuchs, Music Director
[Domino; 2017]
Rating: 5.5/10

Key Tracks: “After the Moon,” “White Light”

Real Estate’s 2014 record Atlas had a lot going for it. Its big hits, like “Talking Backwards,” “Had to Hear” and “Crime” were some of the best indie tracks of the year, with its sunny, carefree attitude being a real outlier in a year of overdramatic, anxious albums. But when lead guitarist Matt Mondanile left the band to focus on his solo project Ducktails, it was unclear what the rest of Real Estate’s career was going to look like. In Mind sees the return of the band with a new lineup and similar sound, but still falling into generic territory.

The album opens up with “Darling,” a track that actually feels groundbreaking for Real Estate, even though the track in itself is a pretty plain indie song. Through its synths and heavy guitar effects, Real Estate is able to channel their inner psychedelia, a style absent from their past albums Atlas and Days. As fun as the opener is, it leaves your train of thought as soon as it’s over, giving a pretty good idea of what the rest of In Mind provides.

“Stained Glass” might be one of the most throwaway tracks Real Estate has ever made, sounding like what someone would make just to parody the band. From its uninspiring chorus to the God awful guitar effects, the usually easy listening style of Real Estate suddenly becomes stressful and anxiety-inducing on this track.

The rest of In Mind follows this bland direction without ever becoming unlistenable, and that’s pretty much entirely because singer Martin Courtney’s songwriting and vocals remain as strong and constant as they’ve been throughout the band’s career. Other highlights of this record are “After the Moon,” a slower track that sounds like an Atlas B-side, and “White Light,” which has the most interesting use of keys throughout the entire record, and is arguably the most memorable moment of In Mind.

In Mind is the most underwhelming record of Real Estate’s career, but overall, it’s a completely harmless record. From the addition of keyboardist Matt Kallman to the continuation of Martin Courtney’s relaxing songwriting, there’s a lot going on here that will help improve the band’s future projects, it’s just not enough to save this record from being bland.

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