Certain art forms are deceptively simple: calligraphy, still-life painting, dream pop. In the case of the last, details like the shimmer of a ride cymbal or the exact tone of a clean guitar can make all the difference. To listen to Atlas, the exquisitely produced third album from New Jersey's Real Estate, is to hear a quartet of master practitioners of the dream pop craft. Casually sanguine yet precisely composed, the album is moody but not mournful, peppy but not cloying. In the grand tradition of bands like Luna, Heavenly, and The Sundays, the songs here rarely feature more than a few chords, a few parts, or a few lyrical ideas (the suburbs, fatherhood)—yet everything fits together perfectly. Matt Mondanile's lead guitar is playful but not ostentatious, expertly complementing Martin Courtney's plainspoken vocals, his languid phrasings soaring above the gentle din. Snare drums sizzle and pop, basslines pogo gracefully, the mood is wistful and breezy. The cascading guitar riff of "Talking Backwards" will have you dreaming of The Smiths, while the cowpunk swing of "Horizon" shows off just how many tricks Real Estate have up their sleeve.

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