Real Estate are a four-piece band hailing from New Jersey, who write lo-fi pop songs that remind you of lazy summer days. Their self-titled debut album was released in 2009 to very positive reviews, and Days is their sophomore effort. Combining the jangly guitar of The Smiths or early R.E.M. with the hazy sound of the chillwave explosion of the last few years, Real Estate make catchy pop songs in the same vein as Spectrals and Beach Fossils.
The first observation worth making about Real Estate is that on first listen almost every track sounds the same. They have a distinct sound, and apparently very little inclination to vary it.Days picks up where Real Estate left off, and it’s possible to reduce almost every song to the following: lead guitarist Mathew Mondanile keeps a jangly guitar riff breezing along throughout whilst frontman and rhythm guitarist Martin Courtney supplies some washed-out vocals, the drumming is quite fast but steady, and the bass is barely distinguishable. A tried-and-tested formula but they do it well. It’s pleasant music, with a few standout tracks that separate themselves from the rest after a couple more listens. On Days, opening track ‘Easy’, and sixth track ‘Municipality’ have the best riffs of the album, whilst the former’s lyrics seem to summarise the band’s subject matter: “In the sun/Around the fields we run/With love for everyone.” They’re not clever lyrics but they’re laden with youthful bliss, and they work. Fourth track ‘Kinder Blumen’ has a great lilt to it, and ‘Out of Tune’ is worth mentioning because it sounds just like The Shins, both vocally and musically.
After listening to Real Estate for several years, my mind is still not made up. It’s catchy stuff, and on both albums there are tracks that grab you, but with little to distinguish one song from the next it so easily becomes background music. I caught them in 2010 at Primavera Festival and they were great. Seeing them live was much more engaging than on record where they’re quickly forgettable. Enjoyable, but forgettable. Pitchfork promises me that Days is “a single idea divided into simple statements – a suite of subtle variations on a theme.” Rather too subtle unfortunately, the album slips into monotony much too easily.