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Real Estate – Days
21 October 2011, 09:00 Written by Tyler Boehm

Real Estate make music about growing up in American suburbia. It isn’t particularly original subject matter, but where so many other bands take the same starting point and make angry, rebellious music, Real Estate embrace the placidity of suburban life and captures its gentle torpor in chiming, almost-hypnotic guitars and watery harmonizing. Real Estate’s 2009 self-titled debut had a warm nostalgia to it; it sounded like a lazy summer day. Days, the band’s new album, follows the same sonic blueprint that made its debut so enjoyable, while taking an autumnal turn.

Days’ opening two tracks, ‘Easy’ and ‘Green Aisles,’ signal that shift to a slightly darker tone. ‘Easy’ juxtaposes seemingly cheerful lyrics with a slightly downbeat melody. ‘Green Aisles’ takes it a step further. The guitars chime monotonously for the opening minute of the song before singer Martin Courtney comes in with a sleepy, deliberate sounding verse. The drums build but the tension just dissipates back into the languorous verse. Courtney sings about traveling through a small hometown town in late fall – images of trees and fallen leaves figure prominently in Days - to find an old love. The chorus, “All those wasted miles / All those aimless drives / Through green aisles / Our careless life style / It was not so unwise,” might read like an affirmation, but ‘Green Aisles’ is the first Real Estate song that’s sounded depressed. It’s long by Real Estate’s standards and repetitive and, especially as it comes on the heels of ‘Easy,’ it can make Days feel like it’s off to a tedious start. Repeat listens reveal it as the emotional and thematic centerpiece of the album.

The band wisely switches it up with lead single ‘It’s Real,’ the immediate standout and catchiest song on the album. A sprightly guitar figure dances before descending in lockstep with the beat to give ‘It’s Real’ a propulsive feel. The lyrics (“I don’t know who’s behind the wheel / Sometimes I feel like I don’t know the deal / When I tell you how I feel believe me when I say, it’s real”) are straight out of Bethany Cosentino’s rhymebook, but it’s easy to look past them with a chorus as joyful (“oh-uh-whoa-uh-whoa-uh-whoa… it’s real!”) and joyfully sung as this one.

The rest of the album settles down into a very comfortable and mellow grove. ‘Kinder Blumen’ is an instrumental guitar piece with a gentle 1950’s vibe to it, much like ‘Atlantic City’ on the first album. Bassist Alex Bleeker gets his Ringo Starr moment when he takes a turn on vocals for ‘Wonder Years,’ the album’s sweetest song. And album closer ‘All the Same,’ is a beautiful piece of guitar pop that builds to a crescendo before unwinding gently and gorgeously over its final four minutes.

Part of the pleasure of Real Estate is getting lost in its hazy sound. So it’s no surprise that Days, like its predecessor, is a grower. Real Estate’s songs can run together, get jumbled in your memory and somehow make each other better, like the warm glow that nostalgia brings to childhood memories. The effect, I’m sure, is deliberate. That the band has now managed to pull it off on a second consecutive album is a triumph.


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