Nostalgia has become a buzz word in music circles these days, many artists designing their whole aesthetic around the good old days, yet few artists can produce something as sleek and pleasurable as Real Estate’s Days. The clean melodies and vocals make every track a pleasure and great music for the background or foreground on any warm, joyful day. Days will take you back to the days in ’89 when you listened to John Lennon on the radio while driving past the cookie cutter tract houses pictured on the album’s 1966 photograph cover, even if you weren’t alive back then.
The links to the past are not only through the language of nostalgia or the cover image. “It’s Real” is lyrically scaled back, with only about ten lines, yet one of them references walking upon “decomposing leaves.” This is almost unarguably a reference to the ’89 Galaxie 500 song “Decomposing Trees,” which also features minimal lines and simple melodies. The big difference between Real Estate and the bulk of dream pop bands is their unstoppable cheerfulness and smoothness of melody.
The only criticism to which this album lends itself is also its strength. The songs are all very simple and unified. This simplicity and regularity is central to the album’s aesthetic, yet it also means that there are few moments where the tracks—which are all very good—transcend to be something a bit more. While every moment is very good, few are mind-blowingly fantastic. This is not altogether bad though, as anything “too good” would bring down the rest of the songs on this album. Real Estate are not trying to create the amazing album, they are just trying to remind us of the days, the wonder years, when things were easy and real.
Perhaps the heart of the album is expressed in “Younger than Yesterday,” which claims “when it takes all summer long/just to write one simple song/there’s too much to focus on/clearly there is something wrong.” The lyrics may seem melancholy, but the sleek sound of the song, which does not have too much to focus on, reveals this to be more of an expressing of longing than melancholy. Real Estate wants to take the listener back in time to a place of simplicity and joy, and it takes about three seconds for the listener to recognize intuitively after picking up the album.
WPGU Music Staff Rating: W-P-G
Key Tracks: “It’s Real” “Municipality” and “Wonder Years”
RIYL: Camera Obscura, She & Him, Beach House