Release Date: Oct 18, 11
From the moment Days begins, the lustrous and blissful sound Real Estate aims for is clear. The record is nostalgic and warm, with slight pangs of remorse for the memories you have but can only enjoy through retrospect.
Days is the second album for New Jersey dream-pop act Real Estate. Released through Woods’s New York based label, Woodsist, along with Half Machine, Days is a sign of progression for Real Estate. The band’s formula will be familiar to fans of the first album– dreamy surf-rock with shimmering guitars and melodies that drift like clouds across the sky. But the songs on Days are denser, with a clearer sense of melody and direction than its self-titled debut. With better production, the album gleams. Like waxing a new car, the color just pops a little bit more.
Real Estate’s aesthetic is the audible equivalent of Super 8 film footage and Polaroids. On Super 8, the images curate a false memory by showing a reality altered with muted colors and grainy texture, the image often times create a nostalgic sensation that is a mesh of memory and fantasy. The two instances collide and you can’t quite remove one from the other. It’s the reason Lana Del Rey’s collagist videos, like Video Games, are so striking. In the American psyche, pleasure and purity are evoked through the pastel coloring of mid-20th century video. And pleasure and purity is what we all yearn for, though often times one comes at the expense of the other.
This nostalgic tone is heard through out the entirety of Days. The lyrics that open the record, on “Easy,” state this clearly with lines that address a utopian past, “Back when we had it so easy/I would surrender completely,” and the chorus of the song too, “Around the fields we run/with love for everyone.” The two sentiments, the first being a manipulation of the past for the present’s own pleasure, and the second, create images of a world we would all like to live in. It’s this charming landscape that attaches you to a record like Days.
On “It’s Real,” the bouncy gait of the guitar and drums create a frantic pace underneath serene vocals, so when the chorus of “ooohh ooh oooh ooh oooh ooh oooh ooh oooh/it’s real” hits, you feel lifted from your feet. The slower paced “Municipality” is a love song about wishing to be by your lover’s side, and the arpeggio guitar line in the verse ruminates with the consistency of a ticking clock, noting all the moments you are without the one you love
There is a strong sense of familiarity encountered when hearing Real Estate’s music for the first time. Part of that familiarity is that Real Estate doesn’t really transgress boundaries, or create anything uncomfortable with their music. That is not to say the band is uninteresting or predictable, but rather have cherry-picked some enchanting qualities of popular music both recent and more distant. In Real Estate’s music you can find the soft surf melodies of the Beach Boys, the psychedelic warmth of Deerhunter without post-punk derisiveness, and the timidity of 90s indie-rock like Pavement. Real Estate’s songs are woven together with such care and precision, that these sounds blend together to create an inviting record that asks you to unwind for a moment.
But because of the use of so many musical touchstones, will Real Estate be able to carve out any lasting hold as an indie band that deserves attention and acclaim? One who’s music should be looked forward to eagerly as albums you must check for? The texture of Real Estate’s music certainly holds the laid back hedonism of current genre-starlet chillwave, but when the tastes of today’s audience change, will Real Estate be lumped together with past favorites, or will they be able to adapt and cross the aesthetic boundaries they inhabit today? It seems that Real Estate has more in its stock than a lot of popular indie acts today. And I don’t want to knock them for making a good record, but good records don’t always translate to lasting ones, and I don’t want to see Real Estate fade like nostalgia, into categories reserved for the good old days.