It’s fall—the leaves are changing, the weather is sucking, and Real Estate’s latest LP, Days, is in your car’s CD player, or at least it should be. The five-piece hailing from New Jersey made a name for itself in 2009, when it released its self-titled debut, coining itself in the surf rock genre with track titles like, “Beach Comber,” “Pool Swimmers,” and “Lets Rock the Beach.” This time around, the quintet eased up on the sun-bleached guitar riffs and created a sound much darker and mature.
This may not sound evident on opening track, “Easy,” a 60s-pop revival tune with poppy, cheery guitar licks, Beach Boys-like harmonies, and tree-hugging lyrics such as, “Around the fields we run, with love for everyone,” or the album’s first single, “It’s Real,” a straightforward indie pop song featuring sunny surf guitar riffs and a happy-go-lucky “Woah, oh, oh, oh” driven chorus, but trust me, its there.
With the exception of those songs, this record steers down the road of folk and alt-country, telling stories of suburban life and giving meaning to the mundane. Each track follows the same basic structure—long instrumental intro, wistful vocals crooned by singer/guitarist Martin Courtney, instrumental break and outro. The music on this album does just as much talking as the lyrics do, if not more. The scrupulous precision is evident in every note. The music is tight and dead-on; however, this meticulousness may also be Days’ largest fault.
Although each tune on this album is beautiful on its own, the structure becomes monotonous as the record progresses, squashing the songs into musical mush. And it doesn’t help that Real Estate’s sound is less than original, showing an aural resemblance to Built to Spill, Band of Horses, and Death Cab for Cutie circa There’s Something About Airplanes, among others. This is most apparent in “All the Same,” the aptly titled closing track that features repetitive lyrics and an unnecessary five-minute-long instrumental outro.Despite its tedium, Days is the ideal fall record. Courtney’s soothing voice and rhythmic chord strums paired with lead guitarist Matt Mondanile’s shimmering, jangly riffs, create a warmth needed on those cool, fall evenings or brisk autumn car drives. And as your feet crunch through fallen leaves, listen to “Green Aisles,” as Courtney sings, “Under dormant trees, under bright lit skies/Mountains of maple leaves, standing side by side,” breathe in that frigid air, and discover the beauty of simplicity.