I have always maintained that there comes an age in every self-respecting, self-appointed music afficianado’s life where they have to find a new band with which to shower their affections and hyperbolic language despite it having little or nothing to do with their general taste in music. Ultimately, I find no band to better represent this divergence of head and heart in the modern age than The Shins, who in the last ten years have somehow managed to attain the title of Everyone’s Official Favourite New Band, even though many of those Everyones are typically ravers, metalheads or punks. You could probably add Phoenix to that list too, because anybody who dislikes Phoenix is obviously a nihilist. It takes a special kind of performer to transcend all forms of commercially viable aggression – violence, sex, gender-bending, a hook by Dr Luke, a beat from Dr Dre, sex, sex, a guest verse from Ludacris, sex, violence, being Kurt Cobain’s widow, sex – and yet somehow manage to become exponentially more popular. It wasn’t just The Shins defining Garden State (though that helped) nor Phoenix turning the word ‘Lisztomania’ into a Scrabble destroyer, it was more than that. These bands are nice sounding and good at what they do, and dudes and dudettes love them for it. They get their non-confrontational lyrics tattooed on their arms. Well hold off on that ‘Caring Is Creepy’ back mural, because here comes Real Estate.
Real Estate are essentially the twin reverse of Yuck, who also broke out this year. While the latter are a young British band who play revitalised ’90s grunge signed to an American label, Real Estate play better recorded ’90s shoegazer tunes in Brooklyn and are signed with Domino, the cult British imprint responsible, among others, for bringing Franz Ferdinand and Arctic Monkeys to your ears. What’s attractive about Real Estate is they’re like buying a new sweater that is already worn-in enough to feel like your favourite sweater of all time. Their sound is warm and welcoming and envelops you in the kind of way that you don’t realise you’ve been paying attention until you start from Track 1 again and suddenly you seem to be able to sing all the words off by heart.
Real Estate have gorgeous guitar tones and a real musicality about them that renders them utterly useless from an edgy publicity point of view but charmingly compelling for those of us looking for our next James Mercer indie hit. ‘Younger Than Yesterday’ is straight-out beautiful classic rock without the need for glitter and trumpets; a loping steelstring line accompanied by a bass line which turns the progression around with enough force to make it slightly (politely) off-kilter, it bathes in the muted AM seas that make all those Fleetwood Mac records sound great. Three very wise people in my life already heralded Days, the album from whence this song came, as their favourite record for 2011 before I had even heard it. It may not have the hooks of Rumours, but it has the feel down. And as for the singer, well, close your eyes and you can imagine Zach Braff giving them his ever-earnest tick of approval. This is the music you were never supposed to love, but you will. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.
Real Estate – ‘Younger Than Yesterday’