In its own quiet, captivating way, Real Estate’s Days is a daring record. It’s one thing to try to stand out by being novel or radically obtuse; it’s another to make music that attempts to do something well that’s already been done exceptionally many times in the past, and not only aspire to the sounds of those records, but also the emotional resonance. The New Jersey indie-pop outfit fashioned Days in the form of the Beach Boys’ Today, the Byrds’ Notorious Byrd Brothers, and The Shins’ Oh, Inverted World—all perfect autumnal guitar-pop records that radiate inarticulate loveliness and deep, coming-of-age melancholy. Real Estate set itself up to falter by comparison, but Days pulls off the impressive feat of earning that company.
It helps that singer-songwriter Martin Courtney isn’t merely concerned with evoking his record collection on Days. Songs like the ethereal “Green Aisles”—where Courtney sings about “mountains of maple leaves standing side by side”—have the feel of memories, with their blurred edges and strong-but-buried feelings.
The long, languid guitar introductions on the excellent “Out Of Tune” (originally released last year as a 7-inch) and the gently syncopated “Three Blocks” work the same gauzy surf-rock territory of the band’s terrific 2009 self-titled debut, but Courtney’s vocals seem a bit older and a lot wiser. The seven-minute closer “All The Same” is another step forward, taking the band’s miniaturist melodies in a grandly epic direction. The bruised, bottomless beauty of Days suggests that growing up hasn’t always been easy for Real Estate. But these songs will nourish those going through similar changes for years to come.