Real Estate- Suburban Dogs (2009)
Dir. Richard Law
Unquestionably one of the slower paced music videos to be posted this week, Real Estate’s video for Suburban Dogs is nonetheless an extremely accurate visual representation of the band’s sound and lyrics and acts as a reminder that music videos serve a purpose other than to create a spectacle.The video is relatively straightforward, a unique product of the internet age that doesn’t seek to dazzle or glamorize, but rather embrace the experience of spending seemingly endless lazy days in suburban New Jersey doing whatever it takes to pass the time.
The strength of ‘Suburban Dogs’ lies in director Richard Law’s focus on atmosphere, which purposefully channels the band’s focus on feeling, mood, and vibe rather than blatant in-your-face emotion. The video is split into two parts: half is clean digital footage of the band performing at a New Jersey real estate office christmas party (see what they did there?); half is a montage of images of the group wandering aimlessly around the backyards and suburbs of the garden state shot with grainy Super 8 film. Aside from a playfully authentic introduction by some heavily-accented office workers at the party, the video is shot like a documentary (or at least an artsy home video) with a focus on capturing office knick knacks, employee mannerisms, and the like. The camera lingers on the tiniest details of the party, capturing the lost moments that create atmosphere such as a slightly tapping foot, the shiny sheen of grease on the buffet, or the loving laughter of women whose hair never really left the 1980s.
A frequently voiced complain about Real Estate is their uninspiring live show. The band’s hazy indie-rock never really leaves the 120 BPM range, and rarely deviates from this practiced formula. However what these critics fail to recognize, and what this music video does best to illustrate is the muted realism that Real Estate very effectively conveys in its music. The reverb-drenched arrangements of twangy guitars and faraway vocals recall a suburban nostalgia illustrated by the vintage-looking Super 8 footage and the attention to detail with digital footage.