Upon an initial thoughtless search of the indie rock group Real Estate, local listings for actual real estate properties unsurprisingly flooded the results. However, somewhat hidden near the bottom of the first search page is the Twitter link for the band, comfortable in its relaxed popularity. It took a bit of filtering to find its presence, but Real Estate is no stranger to introspective discovery.
The origin of the group name lies in vocalist Martin Courtney’s original pursuit of happiness — real estate. He was studying for his license at the time of the group’s fruition, and the rest of the band members planned on following suit had they not attained some modicum of success. Lucky for them, the future held five studio albums; “The Main Thing” being the most recent.
Though Real Estate has juggled various members since its founding in 2009, there remains one constant: its musical flair. In “The Main Thing,” Courtney takes the listener for a groovy musical ride, complete with existential confrontation and a certain trance-like reliability within every track. From “Friday” and beyond, there is an immediate presentation of a uniform sound. Variety can suffice, but consistency is always a breath of fresh air.
Real Estate is a reminiscent blend of original jam bands like The Grateful Dead, with a relaxed and modernized twist on alternative rock groups like Pixies or The Feelies — it elegantly balances confrontation with an irrefutable sensory experience.
Like the aforementioned bands, Real Estate gives the audience that fly-on-the-wall feeling. There is a curiously intimate aspect layered within every track that creates the feeling of participation. Were the lyricism non-existent, the instrumentation alone is still enough for transportation.
While the entire album maintains a pleasantly monotonous atmosphere, the band nails every opportunity for auditory exploration within safe limits. In the second track, “Paper Cup,” electronic pop duo Sylvan Esso joins the quest for purpose while getting older. The lyrics explore the idea that, like a paper cup, wear and tear sets in over time. The rim of the cup wrinkles with age while the inner lining displays vaguely apparent traces of what once was. Real Estate’s search for “The Main Thing” is unapologetically resilient, putting them above other indie rock groups.
On the tracks “Brother” and “Sting,” Courtney takes a break from existential questioning and relies solely on the collaborative compositions intertwined for a communal experience. Each member took part in the construction of every track and utilized their individual talents, rather than one writer handing out assigned parts. This sense of community is a refreshing break in the midst of existential ponderance.
When it comes to the title track, “The Main Thing,” self-expression is the name of the game. Courtney pleads, “Despite the crushing weight/Of all that’s on our plate/Despite the true significance of/Everything at stake/I will stay true/The main thing/It’s all I can do/The main thing.” In a world where existence can seem better said than done, unapologetic individualism is the crutch that Real Estate wants the listener to lean on.
A new psychedelic frontier is on the horizon, and Real Estate is leading the charge. From their parents’ basements to laid-back jam sessions on stage at Coachella, the group has yet to see its modernized, Grateful Dead-esque persona fade.