Song #15 // Real Estate, “Talking Backwards” [Atlas]

Real EstateI still don’t know how authors are able to write about memory without touching on nostalgia and emotion. When I see it done well I’m hit with a feeling of jealous awe. How can one talk about firsts or the passing of time without a whiff of sentimentality? And yet somehow in those records of success you find the impact of emotion in prose that can seem heartless upon close inspection. The memories are lacunae, or maybe the insulation between words: unseen but still felt.

It’s a fine line, and I’m not sure which side this band is on. On one hand, the shimmering punctuations between strums and fuzzy vocals emits not just a feeling, but a pastiche of memories riding in the back of my parents’ car on a warm Sunday, listening to whatever burgeoning alternative station my sister was into at the time. They were days of Toad the Wet Sprocket and R.E.M. They were carefree only because I was so young and so naive and so focused on the sense of being carefree.

On the other, bands like these–for better or worse–can come off as nostalgia cover bands. Not that they’re covering the bands of my youth, but actually covering the feelings that those memories radiate. What if it were possible to create a soundtrack composed solely of what it felt like to kick off church shoes and run into the shaded backyard? The result would be something like this album.

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