Martin Courtney: Many Moons

While Many Moons doesn’t veer from the band’s template, its lush arrangements and baroque influences make every track a joy to listen to.
Martin Courtney
Many Moons

After residing on just this side of total obscurity, Real Estate (whose own real estate includes their home base in Ridgewood New Jersey) seem to be gaining traction. After an initial bow under their own auspices, they signed a recording deal with Domino Records and subsequently released their second and third albums, garnering critical praise in the process. Their sunny sound and penchant for pop embellishment seemed to be paying off, thanks to some high profile supporting slots on several major tours and prominent placement at the Pitchfork Music Festival, Coachella and the Primavera Sound Festival in Barcelona Spain. The band’s most recent effort, Atlas was primed to put them in the spotlight, making Real Estate a valuable commodity indeed.

With that notoriety now seemingly all but guaranteed, the timing of singer/guitarist Martin Courtney’s first solo album appears curious at best. With Many Moons, Courtney, one of the band’s constants and clear prime movers — the other band members are Alex Bleeker (bass, vocals), Matt Mondanile (guitar), Jackson Pollis (drums) and Matt Kallman (keyboards) — doesn’t veer at all from Real Estate’s M.O., making this individual outing seem all that more redundant. Why now? And why at all considering the fact that the group’s finally reaping their just rewards.

Suspicions aside, it may make sense. After all, it’s not like his bandmates don’t stray out on their own on occasion. Bleeker’s been guesting on different sessions of late and Mondanile’s side project, Ducktails, can claim no less than five albums to their credit. As for Courtney’s motivation, he states it succinctly on his website:

“Almost two years ago, I started recording some of my songs with Jarvis Taveniere producing and playing bass. The idea at the time was really just to do a couple tunes, and maybe put out a 7 inch or something. We ended up having fun working on those songs, so I kept writing, and we kept recording whenever we could between tours with our other bands. Now we have an album…I’m super proud of this record, and…I’m excited for everyone to hear it.”

And well he should be. While Many Moons doesn’t veer from the band’s standard template, its lush arrangements and baroque influences make every track a sheer joy to listen to. Songs such as “Awake”, “Focus”, and “Foto” boast an iridescent glow that radiants with melody and allure, a sound that absolutely sparkles. Even the flutes that alight in the instrumental offering entitled “Little Blue” and the full-fledged jangle of the title track help keep things on course. There’s an unceasing attraction in every offering, binding the album as a beguiling whole.

Naturally, one can only hope that Real Estate stay the course and continue to put out another album as enticing as their last. However until they do, Many Moons testifies to the strength that resides in the sum of their parts.

RATING 8 / 10