Just over a decade since introducing their surf-splashed strand of indie, ‘The Main Thing’ sees Real Estate switch untethered escapism for a more ambiguous route. Carrying a titular nod to Roxy Music’s ‘Avalon’, the New Jersey group are found plying melancholia through a coming-of-age lens - adopting the latter album’s creative maturity, if not its ‘80s sophisti-pop shimmer. In some sense, this slicker approach doesn’t seem much of a surprise, having recently developed their own wine brand, but it does represent the band committing further to a less definable image.
That said, playful guitar-pop remains a feature, boasting plenty of hazy moments while borrowing broader influences than that dabbled with on the likes of ‘Atlas’ or ‘In Mind’. Frontman Martin Courtney ably orbits through the ‘Moon Safari’-like weekender chillout of ‘Friday’ - honeyed vocals basking in ‘Gone’’s golden rays, lilting through the nostalgic longing of ‘Shallow Sun’: “twenty-five in twenty ten / never going back again”. Torn between old habits and a limber, more flexible stance, this fifth album stands as a misty mix of downtempo vibes with sombre, often questioning lyrics - Real Estate strike out here, thriving in the art of surprise and subversion.
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