Captain’s Rest, Glasgow, Thu 28 Jan 2010
‘What you want is just outside your reach,’ runs the opening line of Real Estate’s best song, ‘Beach Comber’. The crowd may skip along to its cantering beat, but the pensive guitar part and Martin Courtney’s lyrics pull the song towards melancholy. In their New Jersey inversion of sunny Californian surf-pop, the beach and summer are precious but fragile, memories, slipping away as youth goes to waste in dead-end suburbia. Courtney and Matthew Mondanile, also of hypnagogic pop favourites Ducktails, colour the songs with a washed-out psychedelic guitar shimmer, perfectly capturing that sense of wistful reverie. Songs like ‘Fake Blues’ take on a more driving edge live, but the fuller sound can threaten to overwhelm the quieter material.
‘Pool Swimmers’ and ‘Suburban Dogs’ are almost gorgeous, the guitars woozy with phase and reverb, but with the vocals half-buried in the mix, the melodies drift just out of reach. Perhaps a busy club is not the best place to experience Real Estate. Far better to see them by the sea, a beach fire sending sparks into the night sky. We can but dream.