Indie-rock kings Real Estate have honed a kind of subtle American impressionism – an inimitable sound that achieves a unique timelessness in its assured identity, underscored by a masterfully focused aesthetic and unique sense of atmosphere.
To date, Real Estate have released two very good, if very unassuming, albums: a shimmering, self-titled debut in 2009, and a sturdier sophomore set, 2011’s Days, their first for Domino. Both records enjoyed critical acclaim for their wealth of ringing melodies, plainspoken lyrics, and languid, interweaving guitar-work. Their 2014 release Atlas unfolds as one impossibly warm, enveloping suite – conjuring quiet, late-night drives down wooded highways, rural rambles with friends (and maybe a love interest) on the sunniest afternoons of the year, and hazy summer evenings spent alone, thinking back to those times and the people who were with you for them. You can catch glints of Galaxie 500, Little Wings, Luna, Neu, Nick Drake, and Pavement, and also the art of Fairfield Porter, Milton Avery, and Albert York. It’s precise, taut and uniquely American, cut through with a melancholia that can feel variously heartbreaking and newly wise.