Occasionally, an album seems to come of nowhere at just the right time. Real Estate’s Days certainly didn’t come out of nowhere; the meticulous song structures attest to that, along with the fact that it’s been a year or so since their last LP.
But as for timing, a few chilly tracks from a typically beach-y band make Real Estate, rather than the sun or the Earth’s rotation, seem responsible for the fall. Opening tracks “Easy” and “Green Aisles” hold onto the band’s surf aesthetic while presenting nostalgia for warmth through a relentlessly breezy sonic atmosphere. And lines like “mountains of maple leaves / Standin’ side by side” in “Green Aisles” sound too familiar to have been written in the summer. The leaf motif repeats itself, unwilling to let you forget that it’s not longer warm.
There are many aspects about Days that forge a sense of nostalgia: retro simplistic pop melodies and structure, surf guitar that hearken back to summer a few weeks ago. In particular, chief songwriter and guitarist Martin Courtney’s simple, relatable tales of careless car rides and longing for love carry listeners back to those suburban summers.
Real Estate could be the lyrical voice for the suburbs, a setting many know and few care to remember. They aren’t the first to sing about it, but the group’s method comes with intuition bred in a New Jersey suburb where the members started playing together. Its verses are just metaphorical and vague enough to derive personal meaning without having to give up the artist’s poetic intentions, whatever they may be.
Easygoing vocals are a staple in Days, which makes it disappointing to hear instrumental track “Kinder Blumen.” It’s alright on its own, but its structure is so much like the other songs that, devoid of Courtney’s indie pop vocals, something feels missing. Then again, “Blumen” is spiced up ever so slightly with a few bells and extra percussion.
As mentioned earlier, the instrumentation is simple, but far from dry. Real Estate makes sure of that with a constant breeze of guitar and keyboard layers that wrap you into the sound entirely without even realizing what they did until the song’s end.
Even “Out of Tune,” which starts with a warm, solitary guitar riff, quickly dissolves into the sea of sound. Swelling effects pedals are in no short supply, nor are catchy stick-in-your-head riffs, like the one heard in “Municipality.”
While it might have sharpened production and made its songs more pop-friendly, as a whole Real Estate has held onto their hazy debut sound with vigor. It’s refreshing to hear something new, but the truth is, that something isn’t all that different from what’s been done before. However, that isn’t necessarily a bad thing when it’s done right.
When it comes down to it, Days’ songs are catchy and repetitive enough to grow tired from overexposure. But that shouldn’t prevent listeners from snagging a copy to listen to until the next release.
3 stars out of 5.