Saturday, October 15, 2011

Real Estate- Days

Early October this year was an Indian Summer, as it were, in my part of Ohio. This means that in the morning it was quite brisk and you needed a medium-thickness jacket; when you got off work, the weather was in the 70s and the sunshine, so very good feeling, seemed like Mother Nature was winking at you. It was one of those week or so periods of time where I sat in an old leather chair by my open window, smoking clove cigars, slowly getting drunk on cheap sangria, and beginning to read something I instantly knew I was going to adore (in this case, The Sandman). The cherry on top of this perfect weather and week or so kind-of-a-bender was first hearing an album like Days and falling in love with a band like Real Estate.

Looking back at my review of the band's self-titled debut, I summed up my feelings thusly: “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.” On first listen, this also summarized my feelings toward the band's new record, Days. I was ready to write my four star review and say the band were even closer to making their masterpiece. “Maybe next time, fellas,” I thought, “now let's go see how the new album by The Field turned out...” However, something funny happened on a recent warm October night: I fell in love with Real Estate.

In the review quoted above, I noted a similarity between Real Estate and The Sea and Cake. This feels more pronounced on Days because the band are drifting further from their psychedelic/surf-rock leaning debut into straight up groove-rock built around the bright, shimmering interplay of Real Estate's guitarists. To put it another way, Real Estate's debut sounds best in Spring and Summer; Days will still sound groovy, mellow, and amazing when Fall finally settles in, and on through Winter. Indeed, Real Estate are more or less turning out to be the heir apparent to The Sea and Cake, minus some of the jazz and Afro-Cuban rhythmic influences of that veteran Chicago band but adding a hypnotic interplay between the guitarists. It's like Television if Television had had two amazing rhythm guitarists instead of two amazing lead guitarists.

As Days is the kind of record which starts pretty good and gets better as it goes, you can bet it also reaches its natural peak with the elongated ending of 'All The Same', hinting at a jammier side of the band than is apparent on their albums or, judging by a live bootleg from 2010 I recently heard, their concerts. One of the album's best songs, 'Wonder Years', is a jangle-pop gem possessing a title which nods to the somehow-80s-evoking scene the band has sometimes been lumped in with. If Real Estate haven't exactly won the attention and sales of better known somehow-80s-evoking acts like Washed Out, Best Coast, or Kurt Vile, Days shows that they have still outstripped them all in terms of nailing down a unique and (seemingly) definitive sound. Call it “coming into their own.” Call it “producing their first great record” or whatever else. No matter the label, it's still the sound of a band realizing their potential.

Days is such a confident and endlessly enjoyable record that one hopes the band don't stray too far from it for awhile. At first, it may come off as lightweight and samey-sounding until, on further spins, something suddenly clicks and you find yourself listening to it over and over for a week straight. These are songs which start off “pretty good” and soon bloom into addictive little tunes you can't get enough of. “Lightweight” it may be...but so are summer shandies and featherweight boxers. But I digress. Days is one of the year's most unassuming and greatest successes. Highly recommended.

5 Poorly Drawn Stars Out Of 5

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