Everyone is talking about Real Estate lately. No band has mastered mashing up nineties gaze music licks into such an indecipherable blend. Swathes of kids listen to it with baited ears, enviously guessing what bands they ripped off, but never quite getting it right enough to turn off the record. “It sounds like Get Up Kids… Like The Dead… Like Sunny Day Real Estate…” and everyone is right, and everyone is right that these other bands did it better.
Real Estate’s self-titled album ventures past the point of reference and blatantly sounds like so many bands from the nineties that listening to the album is like walking through a museum of Matador Records 94-97, and like most museums, they don’t get it right, but they make it worth the money. To say they are influenced by Pavement or Yo La Tengo, is putting it lightly – if you play one band against another, it's cringe-worthy how they overlap.
But a good thing about ripping off great bands from the past is that if you do it well it sounds good. Beach Comber and Fake Blues stick to you like good pop songs are supposed to. Plus, many people who are into this record are young enough to hear it with virgin ears; these melodies might be mind-blowing. This safety all but guarantee mass sing-alongs to songs like Suburban Beverage at live shows. “Budweiser Sprite, do you feel alright?” grazes
condescension and aims for sweet (not to mention the name of Portlander Daniel Rizer’s solo project).
I would never listen to Tom Jones cover himself, so it is hard for me to listen to these kids basically covering Galaxie 500, but past the
jaded accreditation of other bands lies the truth that Real Estate is effortless, nice music to daze away the day. It’s got pretty
guitars and nostalgic lyrics. Martin Courtney and Matthew Mondanile outdid themselves to exalt Jersey Shore Indie to
a status so lofty that it makes any other self-referential nu beach band (Surfer Blood, Beach Fossils, Surf City, Spiral Beach) not only pale in comparison, but also forces the listener to look past the band’s redundant song titles and into… their catchy tunes.
One more extended metaphor. Their songs are a day dream of the girl who you always wanted to be right for you in high school. The girl who used to sit in front of you in class who everyone thought was a slut but you didn’t mind how you could see her white bra through her white shirt and kind of liked how her blonde hair looked yellow. Maybe, past the perfume and wrong answers in class, you thought she would be a girl who could ride shotgun with you and laugh at smart jokes, and you could go to the museum together and the Egyptian pyramid replicas wouldn’t be replicas anymore, but shiny and gold.
And then she says something dumb.
That’s cool, though. Day dreams are preferred to the real thing on occasion – it’s safer than going for it, that’s for sure.