Over the past 24 months the export of American guitar bands have come in a swathe of harmonic, melodic and textural sophistication. Grander records like Grizzly Bear’s Vectamist or Fleet Foxes’ eponymous LP wowed with shining expansive arrangements and rootsy American folk. Late last year Real Estate‘s self-titled debut album snook in quietly but assuredly into an already saturated scene. Their record is less arresting but all the better for it – a slow-burner of blissed out summery tunes.
The New Jersey quartet have drawn a commendable Monday night crowd, near filling the cavernous Crawdaddy in Dublin on the first night of their European jaunt. As -Green River’ is counted in by drummer Etienne Duguay, there’s an immediate sense of urgency about Real Estate that would never be picked up from their records. The hollow and scattered percussion on -Fake Blues’ make it gripping in a very different way, altogether more rhythmic.
Martin Courtney’s vocal on -Green River’ isn’t perfect but sometimes the effort is more charming than singing note-perfect. He does have a compelling voice, strong and warm, it stands out even when harmonised with bassist Alex Bleeker and guitarist Matthew Mondanile. Mondanile brings some Coxon-like qualities to the band – he has an air of geeky enthusiasm and wry humour. His guitar throughout is drenched in reverb, but doesn’t feel over-used and there are some cleverly shimmering solos. One of the three new songs of the night is sung by Mondanille, something about looking for a handkerchief. -Now and Forever’ is one of the other new tunes, and it’s a sunny piece of stoner-rock – though very much on the pop side of things.
It would appear that Real Estate are moving away from a chilled out psychedelic sound to something more bouncy and jubilant. In saying that highlights of the night were -Black Lake’, with it’s waltzing rhythms and chiming guitar, the sublime -Swimming Pool’, not nearly as hazy live as on record, and set closer -Suburban Beverage’, ending the night with six minutes of gleaming guitar and witty harmony.
While making iridescent music Real Estate don’t try too hard and are not over-polished, a nod back to a slightly more gritty garage sound, which in itself will make them stand out from the pack.