Record Label: Domino Records
On In Mind, the fourth full-length record from Real Estate, the band fine-tunes the winsome songwriting and profound earnestness that made previous albums—2009’s Real Estate, 2011’s Days, and 2014’s Atlas—so beloved and pushes the sonic terrain of their songs in a variety of compelling new directions.
Written primarily by guitarist and vocalist Martin Courtney at his home in Beacon, NY, In Mind offers a mild shifting of the gears, positing a band engaged in the push/pull of burgeoning adulthood. Reflecting a change in lineup, changes in geography, and a general desire to move forward without looking back, the record casts the band in a new light —one that replaces the wistful ennui of teenage suburbia with an equally complicated adult version.
Recorded in Los Angeles with producer Cole M.G.N. (Julia Holter, Beck), the eleven tracks on In Mind deliver the same kind of warmth and soft-focus narratives that one has come to expect from the band—pastoral guitars, elegantly deployed arrangements, a sort of mindful melancholy—but there is also a newly adventurous sonic edge to the proceedings. Album opener—the ebullient pop number “Darling”—announces itself with a wash of synth tones rather than guitars. The band’s predilection for crafting airtight pop songs remains in full-effect here, with songs like “Stained Glass” and “Same Sun” occupying the same kind of rarefied universe as fan favorites like “Talking Backwards” or “It’s Real.”
Glittering pop moments aside, the record’s most stunning moments are arguably its most restrained— “After the Moon” unspools in waltz-like fashion, while album closer “Saturday” offers In Mind’s most pointed take on moving beyond the fascinations of youth: ‘When a stranger is living in your old house / What does where you were born still say about you? / It’d be best to jettison what you can’t redo.’
Perhaps more than on any other Real Estate record, the lyrics on In Mind seem to reflect a struggle between youth and adulthood, the desire for escapism balanced against the increasing demands of responsibility. (‘There’s no place I would rather be right now,’ sings Courtney on “Stained Glass”, ‘I’d love to never leave but I just don’t know how.’) “I feel like it takes touring a record for a few months and playing the songs over and over for me to really start understanding my own lyrics,” says Courtney, “but so much of this record feels like it has to do with my concerns about taking care of my family.”
The songs on In Mind reflect a kind of quiet ambition on the part of the band. A desire not to reinvent themselves, but rather to just be the best version of themselves that they can be. “We do want to grow and explore new territory and use the studio in a different way,” says Bleeker, “We didn’t want to change anything arbitrarily, but it felt good to reach out into some more exploratory space while still holding on to what makes us Real Estate in the first place.”
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Joseph Abajian (DJ Jab) founded Fat Beats in 1994 with nothing more than a shoestring budget and an earnest obsession with the music, the culture, and the brotherhood of New York’s burgeoning rap scene. What began as a simple vinyl shop in Manhattan’s Lower East Side quickly became an integral hub for artists, both aspiring and established, to convene and collaborate on new projects. Joseph’s timing couldn’t have been more impeccable. When the 90’s cultural zeitgeist – and, in turn, the music industry establishment – chose hip-hop as its new arbiter of cool.
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