On the surface, Real Estate’s fourth album In Mind sounds like a straightforward, logical progression for the New Jersey outfit.
But dig a little deeper and it’s clear this band of perfectionists have been pushing themselves.
For a start, they’ve messed with the formula of their typical 10-track ordering system that was so perfectly replicated on breakthrough records Days (2011) and Atlas (2014).
“This one actually has 11 songs — this one goes to 11,” frontman Martin Courtney laughs from his home in Beacon, New York.
“There actually isn’t an instrumental song.
“It took us like a month to sequence this record and there was some serious fighting within the band over it, because we all take it very seriously.”
The lack of an instrumental can almost completely be put down to the departure of founding lead guitarist Matt Mondanile, who contributed a musical breather at track five on all three of Real Estate’s previous albums.
“It was really different,” Courtney says of making an album without Mondanile.
“He has a very specific personality. Having made so many records with him, and then not making one with him and still being Real Estate, felt way different.
“But we were lucky to have Julian (Lynch, new guitarist) who is somebody I’ve known equally as long. I met Julian the same day I met Matt when I was 15.
“We were just so excited to be making music again, and like the vibe was really good throughout the whole process. It’s been really nice. It’s a different vibe.”
Courtney is reluctant to go into too much detail but indicates personality clashes and Mondanile’s ongoing solo project with Ducktails were central causes of the split.
“There’s a number of reasons, let’s put it that way,” the 31-year old father of two says. “He definitely has a lot going on in his career musically and people drift apart. I don’t want to go too much into the details.
“It’s pretty complicated to be honest.”
Perhaps the most striking track on the album, and the one in which the new twin guitar attack of Courtney and Lynch get to show their chops, is the seven-minute epic Two Arrows, which forms a centrepiece to In Mind.
“We were all thinking of that one as track five and the end of side A,” Courtney says. “It’s got that outro, which is, you know, quite epic.
I’m glad people like it. It’s one of my favourites too.”
In Mind is released March 17.