At this point in their career, I was not expecting much from Real Estate. Their first two albums, Real Estate and Days failed to grab my attention in any meaningful way. They sounded unpolished, juvenile, and, frankly, lacking motivation in their music. It seemed pointless to follow them. Atlas is Real Estate’s third full length album, but counting albums worth space on your phone, this is their first. The element of this album that needs to be stressed is how shocking it was compared to their last two full fledged albums, which appeared to be lacking in any development. They’ve so heavily refined their hazy and vague garage band sound into something so cogent and awesome that Atlas is sure to help Real Estate gain traction where they have thus far failed to.
Analyzing the content of the lyrics for many artists can be boiled down to three simple ideas: sex, fame, and drugs. I accept that as the norm. Previously, Real Estate only had songs about having a good time while doing fun things – music that you relate best to at the beach. Since this is Michigan, they struck me as foreign and rather bland. The transformation in Atlas is representative of how they have gone from writing dopey, meaningless songs to constructing powerful, emotionally charged ballads about life. It makes them more accessible. As “Crime” laments “Toss and turn all night, don’t know how to make this right. / Crippling anxiety,” Real Estate demonstrates that they know there is more to life than having a good time: there is real struggle and terror out there. Real Estate appeals to this fear, and, in a true stroke of genius, makes themselves instantly accessible to everyone. That is the defining moment of Atlas, and it is sure to be the crystallizing moment for Real Estate’s new fans.
Real Estate takes their new accessibility one step further with their music video for “Crime.” In a gambit I have never seen, Real Estate took their biggest hit of this new album, wrote down the tablature (which, for those who do not know, is a method of note reading used by beginner guitar players), and showed viewers how to play it:
That was their official music video for the most popular song from Atlas. Can a music video make you feel any closer to an artist than that?
Atlas proves that by focusing on the important aspects of making music, which in Real Estate’s case is connecting with fans, that a band or artist can win over the ears of people who had previously written them off. This “open to all” attitude that is embodied by Atlas is sure to bring Real Estate the recognition they now deserve.
written by Tom Johnson