The Byrds no eran los únicos que jugueteaban con caballos en sus discos. Un equino es el inquieto protagonista del vídeo de este avance del nuevo trabajo de los sutiles Real Estate, que no parece que vayan a apartarse demasiado de su elegante sonido Jangle de siempre.
Las cuatro de la tarde
Se me ocurre titular el post de esta manera, porque me parece la hora ideal para disfrutar de la música de Real Estate. Su Jangle-Pop ensoñador y delicioso es la mejor forma de disfrutar de una de los momentos del día idóneos para reposar, para dejarte llevar a los brazos de Morfeo, para soñar… Como leí en algún blog amigo, el sonido de Real Estate sigue sin decepcionar. Han evolucionado sutilmente durante el breve trayecto de sus tres largos, y limado ciertas asperezas iniciales para llevarles a un sonido casi puro y cristalino. Un auténtico deleite para oídos exigentes y sensibles a músicas como las de The Feelies, The La´s, Rem, The Go Betweens…
“On Atlas, their basic sound hasn’t changed—frontman Martin Courtney’s clean-strummed open chords, Matt Mondanile’s bright leads, and a light-stepping rhythm section all squish together comfortably like college housemates sprawled on a sectional sofa—but the mood has. “I’m just trying to make some sense of this before I lose another year,” shrugs Courtney on “The Bend”. On “Crime”, he sings “Toss and turn all night, don’t know how to make this right/ Crippling anxiety.” The once-ideal pool party band, in other words, has turned to soundtracking the cleanup: Everyone’s gone, the sky’s threatening rain, there are cigarette butts floating in the pool, and we’ve all gotta work tomorrow. The result is at once their most forlorn album and their most beautiful. Producer and mixer Tom Schick dissolves the noncommittal haze of reverb that made it sound like you were hearing Days through a fisheye lens, and the crispness that emerges on Atlas is gorgeous. Courtney’s tenor is soft and even, and the room tone is bruised-ripe like an October sunset. In this soft light, the band sounds like the platonic ideal of themselves, and it’s difficult not to wish all their albums had been recorded this way. The clarity of Atlas underlines what an uncommonly graceful unit they are. Real Estate essentially has two lead vocalists—Courtney’s tenor on the one hand, and Mondanile’s pearly guitar melodies on the other. The two voices enjoy a near-telepathic relationship, and it’s almost impossible to imagine Courtney’s singing without Mondanile’s guitar twirling around it, and vice versa. As the tabbed tutorial they posted for “Crime” underlines, nothing anyone is playing would tax a first-year guitar student. But their two voices, working modestly and in perfect sync, key into a mysterious and powerful emotional calculus. When the bell-clear leads rise out of on “The Bend” and”Navigator”, they feel like spontaneously welling tears. This simplicity and eloquence is the key to Atlas’ surprisingly profound ache. Courtney’s words tend to mention the same things over and over—the sky, the horizon, the sidewalk, the houses on his block—but he’s not repeating himself. He’s shaping the contours of a world, one that’s built on a sense of cosmic gratitude matched by an equal and opposite sense of cosmic loss. “I don’t need the horizon/ To tell me where the sky ends/ And it’s a subtle landscape/ Where I come from,” he sings on “Had to Hear”. “Just over the horizon/ That’s where I always think you’ll be/ It’s always so surprising/ To find you right there next to me,” he sings tenderly on “Horizon”. The bittersweet disorientation of these two competing thoughts—I’ve lost more than I’ll ever know, I have more than I ever imagined—mark out a very particular phase of life, and it’s one Courtney is currently in the throes of: He’s about to have his first child. This is a life moment when you engage in a little less dreamy reverie about who you might be, and begin assessing, with some alarm, who you have already become. If you’re lucky, like Courtney, you are roughly pleased with what you find, even as you squint bewildered into the recent past to mark the notch where the transition happened. “I remember when/ This all felt like pretend/ And I still can’t believe,” he marvels on “Crime”. “I’m staring at the hands on the clock/ I’m still waiting for them to stop” he sings on “Navigator”, the album’s final song and one of many bemused meditations on the passing of time. Real Estate have weathered some jam-band comparisons, and Alex Bleeker is an avowed fan of the Grateful Dead, so it feels like a permissible stretch to note that the shadow of a very particular Dead song—the wry, valedictory “Touch of Grey”—seems to hover over Atlas. Like that song, Atlas assesses the current moment, and everything leading up to it, with a puzzled head scratch and shit-eating grin. Real Estate are a deeply suburban band, and the shade of long tree-lined streets, the lonely symmetry of the houses, rise up continually out of their music. If it has been too easy to underestimate Real Estate in the past, it might be in part because of this: Suburbs are not often stages, in the popular imagination, for great existential drama. They are places of reverie, of absence, into which the drama of the real-world intrudes. But Atlas gazes calmly and wisely into the face of some troubling questions: Mortality, the passing of time, the problem of loneliness. With it, Real Estate have made more than just their third excellent record in a row, more than just their best-ever record. They’ve made the first record of their career that feels like it might teach you something over time. It is rare, and special, for a band to be this effortlessly and completely themselves” (Pitchfork)
Sin lugar a dudas, Days (2011) es la banda sonora perfecta para el otoño, la época en que se editó, pero que toca a su fin. Como bien incide la crítica de Pitchfork, que acompaño, el concepto de Days (2011) es absolutamente homogéneo y unitario. Algo así como el single perfecto repetido una y otra vez, durante diez cortes. Tiene, además, la duración perfecta, ni corto ni largo. Y desde luego nada sobra. Ninguna nota, ningún acorde está de más en esta obra maestra del Lo-Fi brillante, del Pop intemporal, de bases de Dream-Pop etéreo. Sin virtuosismos, pero con todo un despliegue de guitarras cristalinas que nos evocan parajes idílicos. Un disco de tintes melancólicos, pero no tristes, de sonidos más limpios que su antecesor, Real Estate (2009) pero absolutamente embriagadores.
Un álbum del que poco nuevo se puede decir, ya lleva un cierto tiempo editado, pero que es justo incluir entre los mejores del año. Sabéis que en TJB no somos amantes de hacer listas, pero Days se merece un lugar más que destacado, sin lugar a dudas. Temas como Easy, Green aisles, It´s real, Kinder blumen, Out of tune, Municipality, Younger than yesterday o All the same (con un loop majestuoso) merecen estar en el pedestal de las mejores canciones publicadas en el curso 2011.
Sus orígenes musicales los podríamos rastrear entre lo mejorcito del C86, mezclado con notas de Pavement, de los primeros Rem, ecos de Aztec Camera y desde luego, con The Feelies. El proyecto de Matt Mondanille y Martin Courtney, chicos con pinta de provincianos universitarios es, sin embargo, absolutamente arrebatador, y desde luego, promete bastante. Además, un grupo que titula uno de sus temas Younger than yesterday ya tiene mucho ganado, al menos con quien escribe. Discazo.
“For a mix of songs made at different times, Real Estate‘s self-titled 2009 debut was impressively consistent. Given how well the New Jersey band fused disparate moments, you had to figure they could reach even greater heights were they to craft their next set all at once. They did just that last winter, and the result is indeed a step forward. Cleaner, sharper, and just plain stronger, Days is like a single idea divided into simple statements– a suite of subtle variations on a theme.
Its coherence sounds remarkably effortless, as if stringing together catchy gems is as easy as, in the words of one song, “floating on an inner tube in the sun.” Interestingly, Real Estate actually acknowledge this sense of ease. The opener is bluntly titled “Easy”, and references to carefree simplicity abound. As singer/guitarist Martin Courtney puts it, “If it takes all summer long/ Just to write one simple song/ There’s too much to focus on/ Clearly there is something wrong.” But the band’s celebration of the uncomplicated is less about how Days was written than about the beauty of life seen in retrospect, especially young life in small towns.
Like the stirring scenes of suburban Texas in Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life, these songs find meaning in daily mundanities– in houses and gardens, phone lines and street lights, names carved in trees and leaves pressed by footsteps. “All those wasted miles/ All those aimless drives through green aisles,” sings Courtney wistfully. “Our careless lifestyle, it was not so unwise.” That sentiment was evident on the band’s debut, but here they’ve honed it to its essence.
The music bears a simplicity to match. These aren’t minimal songs by any means, but the layers of cycling guitar, rolling rhythm, and gentle echo are always understated, more about conveying feeling than showing off the band’s considerable chops. There’s also a smooth efficiency in these rich tunes. No note feels wasted, and nothing happens at the wrong time or in the wrong place. Much of this precision comes from guitarist Matt Mondanile, whose nimble playing adds color to each song’s shape. It’s most noticeable in the insistent “It’s Real”, but I’m even more taken with his sonic smoke rings in “Out of Tune”, and how his shimmering guitar evokes sunrays mingling through branches and sparkling off pools.
That idyllic tone permeates Days, and in lesser hands could deprive it of tension or variety. But Real Estate have such a knack for classic-sounding melody that every song quickly engages on a musical gut level. It’s a quality their music shares with the jangly hooks of early R.E.M., the breeziness of later Pavement, and the garage twang of the Fresh & Onlys. But their closest kin are New Jersey forefathers the Feelies. That group’s undying ability to mine repeated chords and Zen phrases is matched best by the album’s closer, “All the Same”, a looping study of how night and day are merely sides of the same coin. Lasting over seven minutes, it might be Real Estate’s first epic. But it’s as subtle and unassuming as anything on Days– more evidence from this band that great music doesn’t have to sound hard to make, even if it is” (pitchfork.com)