‘Atlas’ is the third offering from dreamy New-Jersey indie rockers Real Estate and follows the same lazy atmosphere first conveyed in the band’s previous two albums. There’s nothing glaringly different or new about ‘Atlas’, rather it features a subtle maturing from the band’s previous work that illustrates a growth in their songwriting abilities.
‘Atlas’ floats by in a haze of short riffs, slow basslines and relaxed drumming. Had To Hear opens with the gentle riffing that will come to characterise this album before expanding slightly with the introduction of cymbal-heavy drumming. The album lacks many vocal hooks, instead relying on the clever guitarwork to provide most of the melody, and perhaps that’s a good thing; Courtney’s vocals are a bit thin and weak to provide much in the way of vocal brilliance.
Talking Backwards does see the emergence of a catchy chorus though, a rarity throughout the record, and this makes it the standout tune on the record. The instrumental April’s Song gently rises from the dying embers of Talking Backwards and the interesting guitar effects serve as an exciting alternative to the vocals.
The risk with an album as hazy and dreamy as ‘Atlas’ is that the songs will gradually become wispier and more vague as the album progresses, but the light riffs keep on coming even towards the end of the record with the mellow How Might I Live and the dreamy Horizon continuing to deliver. The album reaches its conclusion with the sweet Navigator again showcasing the band’s skill at producing beautiful guitar melodies.
What’s most impressive about this album is its ability to maintain the same level of chilled indie-pop throughout, without ever leaving the listener behind. ‘Atlas’ is a lazy-summer-day album; it’s not meant to be an active listen, instead the soft music washes over you and floats by as if in a dream. Want something delicate to soothe you to sleep? Well then, this is the album for you.