They fit right in with the “chillwave” movement (or “glo-fi,” or whatever the hell it’s called this week), but the members of Real Estate aren’t interested in chronicling the hoary tropes of good-ass times on the beach cruising for fun like every new band with “surfer” in their name. No, the New Jersey quartet is wistful for a different kind of summer, the summer spent in shitty basements with wood-paneled walls and a lonely oscillating fan for circulation, watching Happy Days re-runs while slouched on a flower-patterned sofa, just biding time and taking up space until it’s time to hit your low-paying summer job or to try in vain to find someone of age to buy you some beer. Real Estate is the kind of album that the kid from Adventureland would listen to if that movie was set in 2009.
It’s no coincidence, then, that Real Estate feel like the band most likely to succeed out of chillwave. They’re plum near the first to actually get a full album together and in stores via the Woodsist label, which collected the band’s singles earlier this year to form Real Estate, a debut that captures this genre of music in its finest form.
Real Estate opens with the winsome “Beach Comber,” the band’s most well-known track, which captures the band’s essence in four and a half minutes; a poppy chorus is buried in reverb, the dueling guitar parts converse as they tumble in and out of the mix, and everything is firmly locked on the “mellow” region of the metronome. The rest of Real Estate is a variation on the same themes: ”Suburban Dogs” ups the haziness, while “Snow Days” pulls it back (to an extent, that is). “Suburban Beverage” sprawls the guitars, while the instrumental “Atlantic City” is head-noddingly groovy.
It’s hard to precisely quantify the charms of Real Estate, since it’s concerned more with creating an affecting and universal vibe than music that can last longer than a blog-cycle. After all, it’s built on nostalgia of 20-somethings for times that aren’t missed by teens. It’s not built for the long haul. But despite its short shelf life, Real Estate, if it hits you at the right time, can be splendidly transcendent.