In Mind by Real Estate
I swear Real Estate knew exactly (down to the day) when this album would seem most fitting to release their new album “In Mind”. The title is short and unimportant as with all Real Estate projects. The cover is also pretty lame, something I do not expect from my favorite jangle pop group since R.E.M., the minimal yet descriptive and psychedelic covers always tempt me to keep my phone’s screen on so I can add a visual aspect to their art. Their last record, Atlas, still sets a high-water mark for indie album covers using a mural painted by Polish artist Stefan Knapp for some department store. It may not be ‘original’, but it looks just fantastic. But on In Mind, it’s just some stupid black and blue (or yellow and gold?) stripes with some cringe-worthy font displaying the album title and artist. I have no clue why they chose this, when thrown in with even only a few other CD’s, it almost disappears against the more interesting artworks. The more I look at it the more I feel compelled to turn the screen off and just focus on the music.
Real Estate once again knocks the ball out of the park with this one. Sure, jangle pop may be nothing new, but you’d be hard pressed to find a music project in 2017 that isn’t tied to its influences. But once again, Real Estate defies my expectations as it does not sound like any other album in its genre (except previous Real Estate releases). There’s no ironic lyrical statement to bog down the excellent musicianship as other bands of the pedigree may become stuck doing (The Smiths to name one, but even R.E.M. with Michael Stipe’s nonsense vocals still was too much at times). I didn’t find myself dissecting the lyrics, they probably aren’t great, but that’s not the point. If the lyrics mattered, this would be an emo album (I kid, but I’ll take great music over great lyrics any day). Instead, just wonderful music is allowed to flow over your ears, evoking a kaleidoscope of feelings that reminds me why I listen to so much music anyways.
This album comes off initially as a breezy walk in the park, however some more dark and noisy leads add a certain element of pessimism and danger to this work, juxtaposing the almost immaculate production on this album. And that’s important, because a lot of this albums faults stem from too perfect production. Yes, in true Real Estate form, quite a bit of the album seems to have been recorded and mixed in a germ and dust free environment, probably next to some satellites being assembled. However this uncanny-valley feel is kept in check by Jackson Pollis’ drumming, which seems to more and more resemble really great drummers. Can and Neu! are easy comparisons to make, however I feel Pollis tends to resemble Ride or Radiohead more than the Motorik greats. I wouldn’t call him a human octopus yet, but it drives the melodies out of holes sometime, saving the whole track in progress. Diamond Eyes is a great example, even though it only lasts two and a half minutes.
The guitars still steal the show. In Mind sees frontman Martin Courtney continuing to develop on his ideas while retaining the winning formula he has found throughout the first three Real Estate albums. A noted change is the addition of a new guitarist, Julian Lynch, to replace Matt Mondanile, who left last year. Lynch made some waves in the folk community, taking a more psychedelic approach to it, I don’t know much else. There is more dissonance to the guitars, creating an interesting play off the shimmering textures that remain steadfast, despite being more heavily manipulated than in previous Real Estate ventures. Regardless, it sounds heavenly.
Revisiting what I mentioned at the beginning, this album is spring time incarnate. It reminds me how much I miss wading in the waters of a crystal-clear lake to escape the sun. It reminds me of carefree times passed and years that have slipped through my hands. It does this from a complete optimistic view, and for every bittersweet piece of nostalgia this album invokes, it reminds me at least a dozen times of how more good times are just around the corner.
They’re totally right about that – 7.5/10
Recommended if you like: DIIV, Beach Fossils, anything jangly
Favorite Tracks: Hard to choose, 1, 3 are standouts