As they enter their second decade, the indie-rock veterans gently expand the borders of their Suburban Ennui with plush arrangements and new voices.
When a rock band enters its second decade, fatigue sets in, no matter how successful their previous albums. It’s an existential problem most groups don’t live long enough to face; many that do choose to disband, finding they’ve run out of important things to say or interesting ways to say them. Some veteran acts take a collaborative approach, bringing in outsiders to expand their sound—Yo La Tengo’s annual Hanukkah performances have become a kind of indie-rock showcase, featuring younger artists like Snail Mail, while Conor Oberst found inspiration in kindred spirit Phoebe Bridgers. For Real Estate frontman Martin Courtney, survival similarly required ceding control to new contributors. Their resulting fifth album, The Main Thing, coats their suburban ennui in plush arrangements.