Real Estate offer a light and summery record filled with charm and many smile inducing refrains. The jangly guitars and effortless vocal delivery provide a pleasant listen which really helped bring me down from a few grim cliff edges this week. It acted as a tool to calm down with after listening to entitled pricks shout things like, “I’ve worked 40 years in this department!” down a phone all day.

Vocations aside, ‘Daniel’ is the sixth album from an American indie outfit I’ve had the pleasure of seeing live. Only the once mind but it was fantastic.

They’re in that vein of groups which immediately makes me think of the sun, cracking pavements and evenings smoking bifters on the balcony, reminiscing about the day’s events frolicking around Lark Lane and Sefton Park. Wild Nothing are another who make me feel this way. Tatum’s group do make me think back to school days too. I would constantly be listening to ‘Nocturne’ (2012) whilst getting the bus home, blazer in hand, sweating me tits off. Hair would be a flickin and the holes in me Tesco shoes growing larger. Anyway, Real Estate were also on rotation during these times with albums ‘Days’ (2011) and ‘Atlas’ (2014) bringing me great pleasure. Tracks like “Talking Backwards”, “It’s Real” and “Younger Than Yesterday” are still getting rinsed. It’s amazing I’m still enjoying these tracks so long after their initial release.

Obviously the new record has only just come out but on my first listen, I was left a little flaccid. “Water Underground” and “Freeze Brain” struck me as a bit tame even by Real Estate’s dream pop standards. I felt no umph or zest for life. I feared this would be an album I’d throw in the “absolute pile of shite” bin; a hyperbolic yet grand chamber inside my half mush brain. After a couple more listens however, I found myself in bliss via the dreamy guitars and general calming vibe. Of course it can’t live up to ‘Atlas’, that shit’s had years to really spread on me, but ‘Daniel’ definitely is a grower.

Maybe this album showcases the growth the band themselves have had too. The themes definitely feel more mature here. It’s not like they were singing about getting birds and skinny dipping on acid but there was a certain youthful nostalgia ringing through those early records. ‘Daniel’ however, strikes me as an elder statesman, this is where we are, how did we get here? kinda deal. We’re older, wiser, still whimsical and jolly in sound but dealing with slightly darker lyrical themes.

Opening track “Somebody New” reminds me of The Shins and perhaps The War On Drugs too. This big and modern, middle America sound drenched in shimmering guitars with an undercurrent of cynical melancholy. It’s good stuff. Martin Courtney sings: “hey buddy, what’s got into you”. I honestly don’t know mate, I respond internally, the reflection of the court windows cutting a stressed image of the thinking listener. Tracks like this and “Flowers” can’t help but burn an image of my best friend, and our many shenanigans, onto my mind too. Funnily enough he is also called Daniel. Is this the bloody Truman Show or summat?

“Water Underground”, “Haunted World” and “Victoria” are absolutely fantastic little indie pop tracks which I do hope to see live renditions of soon.  The track “Haunted World” in particular resonated. Made me think of the world, made me think how fucked it is. Made me think wow, it must be true if Real Estate are making me further agree with the notion that this is a battered, crackpot planet we live on. You don’t necessarily need the screaming vocals of an angry bearded thirty something who has poems entitled “The World Is A Burning Plague, I Am Her Slave To Madness In The Jaws Of Destruction” or something like that. Don’t ask where I got that from…

You just need honest words and a half-perfected songwriting recipe book. There kind of is no one else like Real Estate.

Real Estate: Daniel – Out 23rd February 2024 (Domino Records)

Estate – Flowers (Official Video) – YouTube

Liverpool born music writer with passion for punk and Everton FC