After over a decade together, Real Estate wanted to approach their new LP, ‘The Main Thing’, without any compliancy or as vocalist Martin Courtney described to Paste Magazine “this is our fifth record and we didn’t want to just make another album and sleepwalk through it.” The New Jersey’s latest effort is their first release since 2017’s ‘In Mind’, and it comes after the dismissal of Matt Mondanile, due to his alleged mistreatment of women. ‘The Main Thing’ turned into an opportunity for the five piece to galvanise themselves as a unit, due to the disruption Mondanile caused because of his toxic behaviour.
While the band state they felt invigorated by the sessions that birthed ‘The Main Thing’, this newfound vigour doesn’t translate across the album’s 13 tracks. It’s a largely languid album where energy levels are threadbare, especially when you pair loose, almost jazzy rhythms with Courtney’s barely-there vocal murmur. Although hazy and carefree, there’s almost no indelible hooks to grab your attention. Most tracks drift by pleasantly with no lasting impact. If you’re after a collection of songs to accompany an afternoon nap or lounging on a beach – this gentle melange of jangled indie will happily soundtrack the drifting by of fluffy white clouds and the occasional slip in and out of sleep. Things become a bit meta on ‘You’ as the band’s vocalist declares “just dream your time away/I don’t see a better use for it.”
‘The Main Thing’ may sound like a very long yawn but there’s pockets of lyrics that provide a loving, sentimental touch; ‘Friday’ has Courtney ruminating “if there is a point to this/it’s something I must have missed/I’m just glad that you exist.” The aforementioned ‘You’ also contains some delicate words of connection “I can’t believe it’s you/no mirage or echo.” There are moments where the band reflect on their own morality, one that’s bought home by Courtney thinking about his children and the world they’re growing up in. ‘Also A But’, rather poignantly, sees the frontman picture a looming climate crisis in the horizon “I could easily imagine any manner of disaster / couldn’t you?”
‘The Main Thing’ is a hard record to get excited about but maybe that’s the whole point of it?
Words and Thought of Adam Williams
The Main Thing
Paper Cup (feat. Sylvan Esso)
Also A But
The Main Thing
Real Estate’s The Main Thing is now available via Domino Records