In Mind, the fourth full-length record from Real Estate, is a portrait of a mature band at the height of its power. Long respected for their deft lyrical hand and gorgeous melodies, In Mind builds upon the band's reputation for crafting perfect songs and carries Real Estate even deeper into the pantheon of great songwriters. On the new record, 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 their songs in a variety of compelling new directions. Written primarily by guitarist and vocalist Martin Courtney at his home in Beacon – a quiet town in upstate New York – In Mind offers a 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. The record not only showcases some of the band's most sublime arrangements to date, it also presents a leap forward in terms of production, with the band utilizing the studio as a tool to broaden the sonic landscape of their music to stunning effect. Recorded in Los Angeles with producer Cole M.G.N. (known for his work with the likes of Beck, Snoop Dogg, Dam-Funk, Nx Worries, and Julia Holter), 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. Elsewhere, on tracks like "Serve the Song" and "Two Arrows," guitarist Julian Lynch employs a variety of distorted guitar sounds that might have felt out of place on previous Real Estate records, with the latter track stretching out beyond the six-minute mark – the closest thing to a jam the band has ever recorded. 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 it's 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