While the wind of change may be blowing through their native East Coast, in the world of New Jerseyans Real Estate very little seems to have altered for a band that seem to look on each new album as a chance to renew their vows with jangly indie rock. In actual fact, the departure of Matt Mondanile, whose hazy, twinkling guitar sound has been such a huge part of Real Estate’s music since the band formed in 2009, signalled a seismic shift for this group of close friends for whom suburban nostalgia provides such a rich seam for reflection.
Thankfully, as displayed on his excellent 2016 solo debut, songwriter Martin Courtney still knows his way around a delicately picked piece of dream pop and on opener Darling he produces another classic of the genre to join previous favourites like Talking Backwards and It’s Real. From then on it’s pretty much as you were, which is either music to your ears or the sign of band stagnating into an overly comfortable groove of their own making as each beautifully crafted piece of chiming six-string supineness washes over you like a warming bath.
Real Estate’s simplicity and lackadaisical nature have always provided convenient sticks to hit them with but far more powerful is Courtney’s ability to laden these featherweight melodies with the kind of observations that make sense to their younger listeners while tugging on the homesick heart strings of their increasingly troubled older ones (“there will always be a trace of me in this place,” he laments on White Light before complaining of “going round in circles” in the gorgeous Smithsian self-pity of Holding Pattern).
The only real hint that things might be hotting up in Real Estate land comes on Diamond Eyes where Courthey proclaims “it’s a time to raise our voices and not go quietly” over a menacing military beat. This apart, Real Estate show that this is a band you can rely on in uncertain times; that’s as good a reason as any to stick around a while yet.
Listen to: Darling, Serve the Song, White Light