The cliched wisdom that good art comes from suffering isn't always true, but Real Estate's latest record proves that it does work. Atlas is so sad, and it's the best work they've done yet.
"Toss and turn all night, don't know how to make this right / Crippling anxiety," Martin Courtney sings on “Crime.” There's a lot of reflection on loneliness and the passage of time. It's not dark, though. This music is sunshine and a gentle breeze. If you had to picture Courtney sadly worrying somewhere, it wouldn't be a dark room, it would be sitting next to a lake.
So much of the warmth comes from the guitar, which is doing just as much of the work, melodically. Matt Mondanile isn't doing anything dazzlingly technical, but it's all executed clearly and with a light, easy touch. The same goes for the rhythm section, delicately and unobtrusively providing a backbone for the winding guitar lines.
It's not so far from what Real Estate was doing before. This record just stands out for the way it holds together effortlessly, not to mention that the production is clearer than ever. Atlas is graceful and soothing, and Real Estate sounds more at home than ever.