As the weather in the Northwest turns crisp and dry, all those summer albums full of beachy lyrics and surf-pop guitars become kind of irrelevant in our atmosphere. They’re nice because of the memories we associate with them, but it’s almost laughable listening to such sunny music when outside our windows leaves are turning brown and the grass is hardened by frost. Real Estate then, should be the last band to hype up at this time of the year. Their 2009 self-titled album was a lo-fi splash of sun-soaked riffs and songs about rivers, beaches, and summertime. Contradictory then, because it came out right as snow was blanketing the Northwest.
Days, their second full LP, released in similar circumstances, bears a lot of similarities to the first record but with a more polished and mature sound than before. Lead singer/guitarist Martin Courtney has referred to their earlier work as sounding “like shit.” The lo-fi aesthetic wasn’t so much an artistic choice as it was a technical limitation. On Days, every beautiful layer of shimmering guitar is produced immaculately, and Courtney’s voice doesn’t rely so much on reverb, instead wistfully dancing alongside the jangly riffs from guitarist Matthew Mondanile (also known as Ducktails).
The early standouts on Days are the early singles “It’s Real” and “Green Aisles”. The former is about the fastest you’ll hear Real Estate play, punching through 2 minutes of bliss with one of the most singable choruses of the year. “Green Aisles” is a slower, nostalgic tune about living in the suburbs. But repeated listens reveal more layers of depth to the band. All of the subtle guitar pieces, bass riffs, and subdued melodies reveal themselves each play through, and by the time the band has reached the seventh minute on closing (literal) jam “All the Same”, you start to realize this isn’t music made for sitting on a beachtowel. Days is this year’s most appropriate soundtrack for a brisk walk through an autumn afternoon.