A perfect second LP which rewards the careful ear unequivocally.
James Skinner 2011
About a year and a half ago I caught the last half-hour or Real Estate’s set at Barcelona’s renowned Primavera Sound festival, and without wanting to exaggerate too much, they were pretty much perfect. One of the first bands on the bill on a beautiful, sunny afternoon after a fairly exhausting weekend, in performing much of their well-received debut album with delightful abandon they effortlessly won over the crowd that gradually amassed before they left the stage.
That was the first time I heard the trio, but, strangely, I didn’t investigate them any further. I can’t say why exactly – perhaps I had the sense that those 30 minutes couldn’t be easily beaten; that they were ideally suited to that specific moment and would only disappoint on record. Maybe they were just another likeable though hardly exceptional indie-pop band, and why put myself through that disappointment?
It wasn’t without a sense of curiosity, then, that I approached Days, their second album (and first for venerable indie label Domino). Recorded over five months in a remote barn-stroke-studio with Kevin McMahon (who has previously worked with Titus Andronicus and The Walkmen, both responsible for some of the meatiest, straight-up satisfying indie-rock albums of the last few years) it is a yearning, winsome thing, drenched in autumnal colour and a sweet, almost blissful nostalgia; a sonic leap forward from their homespun self-titled debut. It is the kind of record that might drift by unassumingly lest you lend it a careful ear, but really: the second you do, it rewards unequivocally.
Fronted by Martin Courtney, the band members are childhood friends from the suburban town of Ridgewood, New Jersey, who reunited following their respective graduations elsewhere. Their shared vision as a unit is immediately apparent throughout the 10 songs that make up Days, where clean, layered guitar tones are propped up by ebullient bass-lines and rounded off by Courtney’s (or Alex Bleeker’s, in the case of Wonder Years) easygoing vocals. Occasionally a lyric or an image jumps out at you – a frozen sea, the frequency of an internal debate, mountains of maple leaves – but these are details to discover at leisure. Days somehow manages to reflect on growing up with startling clarity while exhibiting youthful innocence and exuberance in spades (not to mention a bounty of warm, hook-filled melodies). In fact, for what it is it is so perfect that I’m not sure I’ll even chance a listen at their third.