This band is in no hurry. Their sophomore album is quick to point this out in the dreamy chorus of the opener “Easy” “I was just floating on an inner tube, in the sun, in the sun”. Indeed such a simple image epitomises a band that needs no pretensions. Instead they find comfort in the ordinary: a conservative band name, plain lyrics, technical simplicity complemented with album cover of a row of bland beach houses. And it is because this album lacks pretensions and is so genuine that makes it so enjoyable, or as lead singer Alex Bleeker best puts it in their leading song “It’s Real”, “Believe me when I say it’s real”.
For it is a brave feat to simplify when we see how many bands are turning from their instruments to computers for inspiration. Moreover Real Estate’s music is very different to that of other New Jersey indie bands, who carry a heavy Springsteen influence such as Gaslight Anthem and Titus Andronicus. Indeed the most daring, and now most recognisable, style of Real Estate is their droning scales that continue for a while after the singing has stopped. For these riffs leave the song in a stasis, and one would think that it would make the music stale. Instead it sucks the listener into this soothing trance, which takes a while to step out of once the song is finished. This trope reaches its apotheosis in the ending song “All The Same”, where the scales take control for the last four and half minutes of the album.
Many of the songs are an affirmation of this relaxed style. For example, the chorus to “Green Aisles” is “Our careless lifestlye/It was not so unwise”. And a common theme in many of their songs is nostalgia, such as “Younger than Yesterday” and “Wonder Years”. However, this nostalgia is double-edged. For it gives the songs the gold-tint of an idealised past, but this nostalgia also makes us aware that their best times may have already happened. Also these images of floating down a river or driving in a car seem so fleeting and far away. Furthermore, though a great album, it is tainted with being too similar to their debut. So in this respect, their closer “All The Same” sounds ominously self-referential. Therefore, though a refreshing and self-affirming album, the band must be aware that their New Jersey slacker muse could run out of steam.