Before being unfairly besmirched by the cast of Jersey Shore, the beaches of New Jersey used to conjure images of boardwalks, of gray skies over choppy blue water. The kind of places Bruce Springsteen sang about with mythical urgency on his early records, a place where prom queens sport busted-up eyes and dudes comb their hair in the mirror and try to look tough. The indie-rock trio Real Estate hails from Jersey, and while its music doesn't angle for the same transcendent B-movie greaser vibe as the Boss, its new album, Days, does hit a simpatico note, nailing the cloudy, surfy mark. Bathed in reverb, songs like the gorgeous instrumental "Kinder Bluman," the scrappy "All the Same," and the swooning "Green Aisles" showcase a band hitting its sophomore stride, easily surpassing the quality of its debut. On "Out of Tune," featuring synth work from Daniel Lopatin of Oneohtrix Point Never and Ford and Lopatin, the group scopes out the midway point between New Order and another Garden State export, The Feelies. Who knows? If Jersey Shore starred misfits like the romantic slacker portrayed in the band's "Wonder Years," maybe we'd understand the television show's "cultural phenomenon" status.
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