Friday, November 13, 2009
Album: Real Estate
Rating: ******* (7/10)
Real Estate popped onto most radars last winter due to some positive mentions from Stereogum and Pitchfork. After months of building a reputation, the band is set to release their full-length debut on Woodsist next week.
Now, it's not a secret that I was extremely bored by Real Estate when I first heard them. And I was also put off by their constant beach references - in the last year or two, everyone and their grandma has formed at least one shitty fake surf band, so song titles like "Beach Comber" and "Let's Rock the Beach" don't exactly warm my heart.
However, I was kind of misunderstanding Real Estate. Though they come from a scene dominated by lo-fi punks and lo-fi indie poppers and lo-fi garage rockers, Real Estate are a psychedelic pop band that borders on slowcore. When you come in expecting dreamy slowcore, it all makes a lot more sense. Their mellow, lazy tunes are reminiscent of fellow-New Jerseyians Yo La Tengo on a chill day, or even of Galaxie 500. Real Estate is all about druggy, spaced-out simplicity.
And they do that very well. Their vocals blend perfectly with gently ringing guitars and measured, muted drums. In the context of the album, the beach references are also secondary to general references to the suburban life of carefree New Jersey youth.
Unfortunately, like suburban life, Real Estate's music often does generate more boredom than enjoyment. The songs I first listened to by the band, "Fake Blues" and the highly-praised "Black Lake," are among the worst offenders on the album. If you're into extremely mellow stuff, I'm sure they're great but they don't hold my attention. The more uptempo "Beach Comber" and "Snow Days" are the standout tracks for someone like me.
Ultimately, I have to lament that yet another non-edgy band will make it into the spotlight this year. There is nothing unpleasing to the ear and nothing truly emotive in this music except maybe a vague nostalgia. Sure, it's enjoyable music to put your feet up to, but I'm gonna have to start organizing an airlift to drop distortion pedals over Brooklyn and North Jersey if I hear anything more relaxed than this. Wear a helmet?