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Album Review

by Real Estate


Review Date
2nd September 2011
Reviewed by
Benjii Jackson

Helping coin the term “hypnogogic pop” (or chillwave, pending who you ask) through his work essentially as Ducktails, chances are that you've in some way shape or form happened upon the work of Matthew Mondanile. Whether you like it or hold it responsible for another subversion of genre titles is a different matter – you know you've heard the sound he along with the Real Estate crew have helped champion.

It makes no surprises then when listening to Real Estate you can't help but feel this is another diversion into surfer-delia once more. It's already been coined as “suburban rock” - a lethargic, nonchalant yet ultimately interesting and endearing form of... well... jeez... everything “chillwave” embraces I guess along with elements of pop. Overt pop, mind you; not a hair-brained variant – simply pop.

While I may give off the impression that I'm somewhat antagonistic about such a release, I'm actually not. Days, the groups second release and the first through European heavyweight Domino, is to the modern music listener what Pavement was to me as a young boy growing up in New Zealand. Which is to say, what The Clean were to many New Zealander growing up before that.

It's laid back, dream like washes are concurrent throughout the album - “Kinder Blumer” a fine exemplary track which demonstrates this. It's smoothed out never one to try and break out into an angular moment, yet it's an album that isn't cautious either. That slacker like element only bring a sense of nervousness to their music – when are they going to proverbially “drop off” and hit the dreaded filler track? Will they at some point utilise the traditional loud-quiet-loud formula to really drive home the shifts in their mood.

They don't.

Instead, the shift in moods is accomplished by changing the dynamics of the song rather than the tone; “Out Of Tune” for example presents itself more fiercely that the rest of the album by having a more urgent driving in the sound – a powerful crescendo rather than a large, noisy wave. It's peak, the 7 minute opus “All The Same”, further demonstrates what could be viewed as the overall concept of the album's sound – loud isn't always attention-grabbing.

So Real Estate manages to once again be in a position where the wheel is being reinvented – anyone wanting to take bets on the Stephen Malkmus comparisons yet? Days is pretty much as earnest as Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain and much like Pavement the album moves away from the lo-fidelity expected from Mondanile, flourishing a little more in the arms of a little more higher production value. Pretty much an early contender for “soundtrack of the summer”.


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