Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound engineering by Mike Gentry
It's as if the people in Real Estate songs couldn't care much less than they already do. They've got many worries, but very few causes for true concern, meaning that they will just keep on finding new ways to get by, to make sure that they don't starve and that they will always have new ways to entertain themselves. Or, the bare minimum might just be that they'll do what they can to keep from being bored, to stay awake to avoid becoming inert and sluggish, just rotting from the inside out, their guts and brains turning to cider first. Lead singer and songwriter of the New Jersey band, Martin Courtney IV, writes these people as if they're participants of the sloven decline or a movement of the basement dwellers - those who find all of their inspiration in the dinginess of an underground lair filled with musical instruments, old paperbacks and girly magazines, countless video game consoles and potato chips, dip, soda pop and beer. The songs on the band's self-titled, debut full-length and the rest of its output over the last few years take us into the heads of those young men who savor their private time, but are being slowly eaten up and mauled by it as well. There's a taint of suburban squall on each of the characters that Courtney sings about, bringing to our attention the always real and always prevalent theme of growing up in most places: isolation and the feeling of being trapped inside the smallest of environments, with little hope of ever busting out and changing any parts of the well-worn scenario of never really having any shot at betterment. These are the doldrums as they exist for millions and millions of people and they make for ripe subject matter when it's all that you tend to experience, when the greatest luxury that you can ever imagine as a kid is to someday have a swimming pool in your backyard. Then you grow up and learn that a lot of unhappy and unfulfilled adults have swimming pools in their back yards. Courtney sings in a lovingly droopy way, as if he's been poisoned by weariness that makes any effort a gargantuan one - yet all the same, delivering exactly what his tales need for their genuine tone. He sings, "Everybody knows that a book is hard to finish/If you're not really into it," making the idea one of utter dismalness, as if this is the best analogy for so many of the most serious of conditions that afflict people. It's as if understanding and verbalizing that everyone knows what a task and awful pain it is to trudge through the pages at the end of a horrible book - one that you've started, so you must complete it - is the same as saying, "Well, we were born and the respiratory system is involuntary, so we've got to figure something out and do something with our days or we'll just be lousy, footnoted blips. We're already so bored, but who isn't? Let's just do what they want us to do. It will be easier." These songs are about people who are lost, but then again, they've not really ever found anything yet, so that's not a huge surprise. They seem as if they're stuck for the moment, but they will grow into better situations. These people are out of tune only because they've never been in touch with anything that has tune. They are still blank and they are impatient for the inertia to start swaying things.