What Happened to Real Estate?

Seriously. I’m not even going to pretend to be formal here. All euphemisms are off. What the hell happened?

Exhibit A:

In fairness, this is one of the tamest examples of the inexplicable self-satire propagated by Real Estate’s *clears throat pretentiously* Atlas.

Let’s rewind for a second. I became a fan of Real Estate from the release of their 2009 self-titled debut [in 2009]. Sure, the lyrics were nearly uniformly awful, but the music tore at my heartstrings and felt original enough for me to not feel too guilty about it. What else, the subject matter encapsulated the mundanity – and the enigmatic beauty – of the suburban upbringing. Sneaking into rich people’s pools, smoking weed on “endless drives” or whatever. It fit.

The followup, 2011’s Days, felt like a practical evolution: sure, the second side sort of tapered off drastically until the final song, but the album had some excellent singles. “Green Aisles” tore at the heartstrings (saying it twice I guess) and still stands as one of the best modern (emphasis on modern, I’m an old fart when it comes to my music tastes) make out tracks I know of. And “It’s Real” is one of those rare, perfect pop songs that even people who completely – and reasonably – despise everything Real Estate stands for can acknowledge as an exceptional standalone track.

“But, why would it be reasonable to despise everything Real Estate stands for?,” you ask. Fast forward to Atlas. Believe me, I was excited about this album. I even preordered the limited run of 2,000 (or 4,000, whatever) marbled maroon vinyl in anticipation. Then the album released, and it sucked. Again, it felt like the band was satirizing themselves rather than evolving or taking risks. Especially with that god-awful “back in the duh, Louisiana” track.

Which leaves me to present exhibit B:

What. Is. This? What is this supposed to be?? Gratuitous time signature changes that serve no purpose won’t save this track from being the most boring, self-indulgent thing I’ve listened to (at least deliberately) in years. And these weird matching Luke Skywalker costumes? What the hell? Did Matt Mondanile quit for a reason? Who are these two new guys, and why do your replacements seem to become infinitely vaguer yet more hilarious looking the more you add members? And lastly, the age old question that inexplicably follows when any band decides to “modernize” their “sound”: why aren’t there real drums?

I should note that my bias is not merely me judging a band, their music, or their character. Rather, Real Estate – and I must be frank: I trusted you. My best friend would constantly mock me for liking, nay, loving, you. And I would pray every night, falsely having faith that you would do some crazy shit and not become a tired cliche. And god damn it, your first two albums should have predicted such a trajectory. What the hell happened? I’m done. I will thank Alex Bleeker and Matt Mondanile for waving to me the FIFTH time I saw this band (this was three years ago).

Real Estate near the end of their glory days, back when Rivers Cuomo still liked them