7: Real Estate — In Mind
Real Estate covers no new ground on its fourth album—pun intended, I’m afraid—but the New Jersey fivesome’s brand of smart, mellow indie-pop is such a winning formula, it doesn’t need to…yet. Internally, the group suffered a seismic upheaval in 2017 when it lost founding member Matt Mondanile, who left to concentrate on his solo project Ducktails. But judging from this fine first post-split effort, Mondanile’s departure has barely caused a ripple in the band’s placid sound. The jangly melodies still recall soft-boiled R.E.M.—think “So. Central Rain,” not “Finest Worksong,” etc. And co-founder and head songsmith Martin Courtney’s lyrics remain genial, daydreamy musings cut with a dash of suburban dread. The lovely “Holding Pattern” chronicles a predictable day in the life of its author, who flirts with existential angst (“It’s just this game/Makes me insane/I wonder where we’re going”) before succumbing to the comforting numbness of sleep (“Someone pressed pause/Wrapped me in gauze/And turned the lights off”). In my universally adored half-year roundup, I predicted that In Mind would likely be the album I listened to the most in 2017. A few picks to come on my year-end list have challenged that bold claim, but I do still play it quite often. And if it’s frequently just as background music to various chores, well, a guy’s got to have pleasant, easy-peasy tunes going while he’s scrubbing the dinner dishes, don’t he?
- 10: Grizzly Bear — Painted Ruins
- 9: Moses Sumney — Aromanticism
- 8: The xx — I See You
- The Top 10 Albums of 2016