“Treading a fine line between perfection and predictability” – Real Estate’s fourth album reviewed

‘In Mind’, a review

Real Estate have always played it by the book, and even now, eight years after the release of their self-titled debut, the veteran New Jersey five-piece continue to shine when producing their bubbling, and whimsical indie-rock. 2009's 'Real Estate' set an unsuspecting benchmark with which the band have quietly and consistently refined their pastoral song craft, toying with glitzy production values and ever so slightly more melancholic undertones, but never wavering from that signature sound.

In an ever-changing scene, where even the most hyped trends can evaporate overnight, you'd be fooled in thinking that any musical laziness or timidity would be an inherently risky manoeuvre. However with 'In Mind', Real Estate have produced a shining dream-pop gem that scores generous points for its consistency, and yet proves to be a treasure trove in itself.

(Image:  ‘Darling’ music video)

The band's fourth album, and their first without founding guitarist Matt Mondanile, since departed to focus his creative energies on Ducktails, his psych-pop side project, you would understand the desire for a reshuffle. However each of 'In Mind's eleven tracks could nestle into, say, 2014's 'Atlas 'or 2011's 'Days' with little quarrel. 

Lead single and opening track 'Darling' is'In Mind's crowning glory, featuring Martin Courtney's wavering tenor, which dances around slinky synths and gracefully entwined strings. Like the musical equivalent of "your favourite pair of jeans" , Real Estate continue to seek comfort in the joyfully familiar . Choice moments of experimentation later begin to slink in however; the hazy psychedelic textures of 'Serve The Song', or the eerie bursts of reverb that cloak the closing moments of 'Two Arrows'.
For the most part however, Real Estate continue to settle upon clean, jangling melodies, awash in bubbling guitars and a kooky surrealism that touches upon quintessential '60s psychedelia and Pink Floyd's expansive prog-rock soundscapes. 'Stained Glass', teased through its very own 'How To...' video remains punchy and uplifting, if a little one-dimensional, whereas the soft-rock jumble of 'White Light' tries to sound more akin to Real Estate than even Real Estate do!'

(Image: Shawn Bracknell)

'Diamond Eyes' strides defiantly into alt-country territory, making for an unfamiliar but mellowed listen, however Bleeker usually accomplished lyricism feels deflated; "It's a time to be humble/it's a time to be free" He hums over warbling synth pulses. "it's a time raise our voices loud and not go quietly".  touching post-Trump sentiment, or  minimalistic 'filler'? I'll leave you to decide. Still infatuated with elemental symbolism; the sun, moon, rivers, rain and the sea,'Same Sun' sees Courtney, now entering his 30's and with a family of his own, ponder adolescence and wasted youth amidst bouncy melodies and autumnal-sounding guitars. It's undeniably, Real Estate.

Real Estate have always been a model of indie-rock consistency, and now have settled firmly into their stylistic groove on 'In Mind', forty five minutes of cautious jangle-pop that acts out the band's strengths, whilst inching steadily toward a dreamier, more textured sound. Real Estate are treading a fine line between perfection and predictability, and for now they're balancing as well as any circus performer...

Real Estate will be making two short stops in both Cambridge and Manchester this summer on their 'In Mind' European Tour. Tickets are super cheap for such an ace band so make sure to catch them while you can!I've listed both dates below and you can buy tickets through the band's website here. Can't make it to these dates? Real Estate will also be playing Dorset's End of the Road Festival, as well as Scotland's Electric Fields. You can stream 'In Mind' on Spotify below: 


27, Junction, Cambridge

28, O2 Ritz, Manchester

End of the Road: 31 August- 3 September

Electric Fields: 1-2 September

Words by Joe Bulger

Featured image courtesy of the band’s Twitter page

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