Nice – that’s the word that comes to mind on listening to Real Estate’s new offering Atlas. It’s been five years since their debut, and their sunny lo-fi sound remains untampered with. The lilting guitars remain constant, as does the metronomic drumbeat, but lyrically there is a significant change. Atlas is a recognition that they can’t be the hipster kids on campus forever.
Sometimes ageing can kill a band (think The Ting Ting’s – remember them?) but Real Estate’s lyrics have matured as they have. “I’m out again on my own” opens ‘Had to Hear’ and if that doesn’t sum up the ‘oh Christ I’m actually an adult now’ feeling then I don’t know what does. Sad, soft vocals in this vein run throughout the album. ‘Crime’ is the highpoint where everything peaks together; the clean, strummed chords combine with the vocal lament of “I don’t wanna die lonely and uptight”. The melodies are sweet and the guitars are light and breezy. It’s music that is genuinely enjoyable to listen to.
This isn’t a record that will revolutionise the music industry. It turns over no new stones and is perfectly aware of this. It’s not a classic, it’s not far-reaching, but the sign of a band comfortable with their sound. They’ve grown older and Atlas is a settling into a contented adult life – the perfect example of sweet, intelligent guitar music you can take home to your nan.