Real Estate – The Main Thing (Album Review)

Formed in 2009, and currently based in Brooklyn, New York, Real Estate concocts a musical style taken after the swirl and subtle fuzziness of Dreampop and then topped with a glaze of Shoegaze for good measure. Currently consisting of Martin Courtney IV (vocals, guitar), Alex Bleeker (bass, vocals), Jackson Pollis (drums), Matt Kallman (keyboards), and Julian Lynch (guitar), Real Estate has five full-length albums in its sonic arsenal—from 2009’s self-titled to the newly unleashed The Main Thing.

Released on Friday, February 28, 2020, via Domino Recording Company, The Main Thing opens with the slowly swelling buildup of “Friday,” which will surely make the listener swoon in love straightaway. This is then followed by the sunny, jazzy, Sophistipop allure of “Paper Cup.” Real Estate then treats the listener to the proper, slow balladry of “Gone,” only to lift again the senses to Dreampop heaven with “You.”

Another upbeat track then plays next in the form of “November,” which with its breezy, nostalgic rhythm and Byrds-esque saccharine melody, is enough to conjure sweet drops of snow despite its being still a month shy from the last month of the year. The Psychedelic Folk sensibilities then continue with the subtler plucks of “Falling Down” and “Also a But.”

Perfect as the mid-album highlight, the title-track then fits its angular guitar strums and tuneful twee-voice smoothly into the whole narrative. A bit slower in tempo, “Shallow Sun” then shines in the same spot with its bright predisposition.

Real Estate then shifts again its Light Jazz gear with the piano ballad “Sting.” The following “Silent World,” on the other hand, radiates its Neo-Acoustic glow; it will fit onto a playlist that includes World Party’s “Put the Message in the Box,” The Painted Word’s “I Found Love Today,” and Deacon Blue’s “Loaded.” The pastoral procession resumes with the penultimate track, and then Real Estate finally wraps up its new album aptly with the relaxing, acoustic surf of the instrumental ballad “Brother.” Serene. A perfect theme for dream weaving.

Dreampop/Shoegaze music may have been championed in the 1990s by the likes of Cocteau Twins (“For Phoebe Still a Baby”), Ride (“Chrome Waves”), Catherine Wheel (“Black Metallic”), Chapterhouse (“Treasure”), and My Bloody Valentine (“[When You Wake] You’re Still in a Dream”); but it did not stop there. In the decades that followed, new bands operating within the vortex continue to emerge—Beach Fossils (“Twelve Roses”), Deerhunter (“Strange Lights”), Snuff Redux (“Molly’s House”), Beach House (“On the Sea”), and of course, Real Estate, whose latest record proves that the gloriously gyrating groove of Dreampop and Shoegaze is still alive and well within the midst of Alternative music. That is why Cryptic Rock gives The Main Thing 4 out of 5 stars.

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