REAL ESTATE - DANIEL
REAL ESTATE - DANIEL
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REAL ESTATE - DANIEL

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Released: 23/02/24

Long gone are the days when New Jersey’s Real Estate made albums that sound like they were recorded in a dustbin. Not that there’s anything wrong with that lo-fi aesthetic – indeed, I listened to the band’s self-titled debut to death when it came out in 2009 (on tape no less, which added an extra layer of ‘dustbininess’). Some band or other I was playing in around the time even got to support them at The Scala, and, apart from the bass player who was a bit of a dick (he was friends with my then girlfriend and, it transpired, had a thing for her) they were perfect gents. Anyway, it’s always a pleasure to listen to a new Real Estate album, and on album number six, the considerable melodic chops of singer and main songwriter Martin Courtney are as dazzling as ever. 

While the sophisticated level of production on Daniel is a far cry from the band’s early Woodsist days (it really does sound beautiful), there is also a change in Real Estate’s aesthetic; it’s not seismic, but it is markedly less surf-jangle, and more mid-period REM; the gorgeous acoustic-guitar-centred single ‘Water Undeground’, for example, could sit very easily on Automatic for the People (the plangent backing vocals sound very Mike Mills). While many bands attempt this kind of college-rock take on Americana, it’s deceptively hard to do well, and there are very few who can pull it off: Stephen Malkmus at his most circumspect, and Teenage Fanclub are among this elite club – as are Real Estate, who are maturing not so much like a fine wine, as a robust-yet-mellow New Jersey IPA.