There is nothing overtly retro sounding about Real Estate. The syrupy smooth guitars may be signs of 60s worship, but this is just on first listen. The band's self titled debut is every bit as close to less obvious points of comparison, like the dream-pop/slowcore of Galaxie 500 as well as a host of early-to-late-90s indie rock of a hazy, relaxed variety, like Eric's Trip. What's more, the opening of 'Atlantic City' reminds me a bit of the 'surf' version of 'Wave Of Mutilation' by the Pixies. But I digress.
There's an easy going vibe to Real Estate that I find infectious. Whereas The Sea and Cake, long running masters of the indie rock easy-going-vibe category, have an austerity and experimental nature to their music, Real Estate are like the guys who record on a thrift store 4-track, spend their weekends drinking beer and smoking pot, and pen lyrics about the behavior of suburban dogs (the aptly titled 'Suburban Dogs') or conversational snippets like "Budweiser, Sprite, do you feel alright?" ('Suburban Beverage'). The repetitive, hypnotic jam that closes this latter track is among the album's highlights. It keeps threatening to pick up speed and self-destruct, but the band keep riding the groove and adding minor changes here and there without ever truly achieving lift-off.
The instrumental 'Let's Rock The Beach' is at the heart of what this album is about. If you've listened to enough music, this track will be instantly familiar, falling into popular melodic tropes and rhythmic dynamics as the guitarists dance around each other. It's exceptionally well done yet somehow unremarkable. By extension, this covers my feelings for the album, too. Real Estate is the sort of enjoyable, low stakes indie album with a refreshing lack of pretense or artifice that will never win awards or change the world. Impossible to hate, difficult to fully love, Real Estate is a good little album, endlessly playable but only rarely remarkable.
4 Poorly Drawn Stars Out Of 5