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Real Estate: ‘Daniel’ makes for perfect Spring listening

The New Jersey dream pop band's sixth record draws strength in its familiarity.



Over their acclaimed fifteen-year career, Real Estate have mastered a gentle, jangle-pop soundtrack for chilled beach days and sunny road trips along coastal highways. The New Jersey band’s sixth album follows a similar template by drawing strength in its familiarity.


Daniel is the result of a nine-day recording session at RCA Studio A in Nashville with GRAMMY-winning producer Daniel Tashian (Kacey Musgraves). And it’s safe to assume Real Estate were more than happy with the final product, providing praise by naming the record after him.


The first half of the record breezes through effortlessly. Opener ‘Somebody New’ has a heap of charm, aided by gleaming guitars and Martin Courtney’s ponderous vocals (‘Hey, buddy, what’s got into you?’ he repeatedly asks in the closing refrain).



'Haunted World’ contrasts haunted lyrics with chirpy acoustic strumming and sun-kissed guitar riffs for a gorgeous earworm, while there’s an exciting psych vibe to the percussive-led ‘Freeze Brain’. On ‘Water Underground’, Courtney explores the theme of song-writing creativity, a refreshingly infectious listen that, unsurprisingly, was picked up for heavy rotation on 6 Music upon release.


As the album was produced in Nashville, a country-influence pops up on occasion. ‘Flowers’ is self-described by the band as “the closest Real Estate will ever get to like a Shania Twain style country rocker”, albeit without betraying their typical jangly style. Later, they go all out on ‘Victoria’: a pedal steel guitar, rolling piano backdrop and Southern-fried singing from bassist Alex Bleekman holds the ninth track up as a welcomed, if a little ill-fitting, differential.


Now in his late-30s, the Courtney’s lyrics are steeped in nostalgia and melancholia, an interesting disparity to the shimmering, sun-kissed guitars. And while the record only scratches the surface creatively, it’s hard not to find joy in these seemingly cheerful, beautifully crafted songs. Daniel makes for perfect Spring listening.

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