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Album Review: Days by Real Estate

By Josh Rice posted Dec 21, 2011 at 10:04 PM

We're spinning "Days" by Real Estate. Find out why after the drop.

Grab a frosty beverage. Mosey over to your favorite sitting spot; somewhere with bright sun and lovely fall foliage would do best. Now, whatever’s on your mind, let it go.

As tough as something that simple sounds, Real Estate makes it incredibly easy early-on with their new album, “Days.” The album opens with a song aptly named “Easy.” Real Estate welcomes you into a more comfortable state of mind with distant, echoing vocals and layered guitar. Lighter-than-air percussion ticks away at the background as the opener sends you into something of a dreamlike state; one can almost imagine lead singer Martin Courtney orchestrating a hypnotism show, but instead of the people in the first few rows falling asleep, they all find themselves okay with the fact that they have to go back to work on Monday.

“Green Aisles” keeps the album’s pacing slow. The same kind of pastoral, homey, guitar plucking keeps the listener’s soul pleasantly warm in the cold winter weather. While not particularly notable for being anything other than a solid following track, Green Aisles does an excellent job of cementing the tone of the album.

The third track, “Get Real,” is the album’s standout by far. It jumps away from the floating, if somewhat unfocused tone of the first two songs. Get Real speeds up the album for a glorious three minutes with the same instrumentation, but employs tighter, reaching vocals, complete with long, held “whoa”s. The song abruptly ends, which disrupts the flow of the album, something that lets the listener get a little more involved when it slows down again.

Again, Days almost asks you to sit back and enjoy the show. “Kinder Blumen,” an instrumental, lets those willing to sink into calmness do just that. For others, the song may sound like a wordless rehash of other tracks. I found it comforting, but it’s certainly no rocker.

The fifth, sixth, and seventh tracks may leave the listener confused. Following the instrumental bliss of Kinder Blumen, “Out of Tune” falls back to a more classic sound, with more emphasized guitar and a little bit more twang. Unremarkable, but at least it fits the album’s mood, though it disturbs the style’s continuity for a few minutes.

“Municipality,” the album’s sixth track, is a kind of laid-back Nirvana-meets-a-beach-day tune. Sure, this one floats like water wings just like the others, but the song features a very catchy guitar hook that keeps the song paced properly. It leads into the summery, bright, “Wonder Years,” reminiscent of Wolf Parade (if they decided to go shelling or building sand castles). The song is almost mournful, but the shining guitar sounds otherwise. Vocals are restrained, but they crescendo at the chorus, something the album could have used more.

Another otherworldly slow beach-jam, “Three Blocks” sounds much like Kinder Blumen, but the attractive novelty of the slow paced instrumentation has worn thin at this point in the album. Unfortunately, this song, because it never builds, never quite pays off, and builds something resembling monotony, is entirely skip-able.

The penultimate track, “Younger Than Yesterday,” sounds something like a tribute to The Shins. Unsurprisingly, this song falls into the same trap as the other slow songs. A promising drum solo lets the listener down when it leads into a guitar solo that sounds like an amalgam of any given bars from the other songs. It fails to diversify the sound of the album when the piece really could have used a pick-me-up.

Finally, the album closes with “All The Same,” which I found to be a painful description of a fair portion of the album. The instrumental portions of the song ring of the same nonchalant, unrestrained grooving of most tracks, which wouldn’t be the problem if there were some other element to the album. In seven minutes, the song does an admirable job incorporating speed changes to vary the extended song, but it doesn’t come close to making up for the other songs that sound uncomfortably similar.

Days is good music to have on, but it’s a different story to sit down and listen to it. If you’ve got a Frisbee and a warm day, this is definitely worthy album to keep handy. If you’re in the mood for something a little more involving, then this isn’t the album for you. Days is perfect to waste a day to, but its songs rarely kick harder than a newborn can.


-- Josh Rice

Listen to Days on WVUM 90.5 FM whether you're on the beach or not.

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