New Jersey’s Real Estate released their third studio album, Atlas, on March 4 on Domino Records. An album written almost entirely on the road, the guys have matured a bit past their beachy surfer jams to a collection of well written thoughts on adulthood. And while their nostalgic sound hasn’t changed, it’s a nice surprise to hear more depth and conversation happening in this album.
The lead single, Talking Backwards, is the perfect track to illustrate their new combination of nostalgic sound paired with more substantive lyrics. It’s a pretty delightful track… about the miscommunication that comes from being far from your loved one on the road. “We can talk for hours. When the line is still engaged. We’re not getting any closer. You’re too many miles away,” Martin Courtney sings on the opening verse.
April’s Song is a flowing instrumental track with the same jangling guitars that are central to each Real Estate song. Past Lives is a look at going back to your hometown and how things always seem to have both stayed the same and changed. “I cannot come back to this neighborhood, without feeling my own age,” Courtney declares in the opening line. “This is not the same place I used to know. But it still has that same old sound.”
In an interview with Spin, Courtney reflected on their first album and coming to terms with it: “the songs are kind of like half-songs in a way; some of them are like a long jam.” And it’s songs like Primitive and Navigator that really show this growth from their first album to Atlas. On Primitive, Courtney sings about looking forwards a future and a family: “and in my mind I can see the street where you and I will live. Don’t know where I want to be. Oh but I’m glad that you’re with me.” And on Navigator, he writes about time: “I stare at the hands on the clock. I’m still waiting for them to stop. I’ve no idea where the days been.” Overall, each song is delightful to listen to, but it’s refreshing to see the band addressing themes of adulthood.