Release Date: Jun 15, 2018
Record label: Sub Pop
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock
Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever's first two EPs introduced a band that knew a thing or two about making jangle pop. With one foot in the six-string chime of the '80s and another planted firmly in the here and now, the Australian quintet crafted plangent songs built around half-sung melodies, spiraling lines, and tempos that had a low-key drive to them. It was a little rough around the edges, a little unfocused at times, but on its debut album from 2018, Hope Downs, the band has tightened things up in just the right ways and come up with something magical.
Hope Downs is a sprawling iron ore mine located in Western Australia, a remote area that is integral to the country's local and global economy. A cursory glimpse at the site shows an empty vastness, a calculated terrain that brings prosperity on a large scale. It also goes by the most fanciful of terms - hope - that imperceptive expectation that always follows us regardless of whether we choose to believe it.
Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever wastes no time in getting to their strength--jangling, propulsive pop-rock--on their debut full-length Hope Downs. There is no table-setting track here. No slow fade in or superfluous into. In fact, opener "An Air Conditioned Man" almost seems to pick up in medias res when you press play.
Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever are either the world's most meandering pop band or its most efficient jam band. Either way, for their purposes, jamming is as much a lyrical strategy as musical one. Over the course of two excellent EPs, the Melbourne quintet has mastered an adrenalized, infectious brand of motorik jangle rock that's both warmly nostalgic and thrillingly unpredictable.
This Melbourne band's full-length debut is a minor marvel: 10 perfectly pitched guitar-pop songs, not a dud among 'em. There are echoes of other bands - generous handfuls of R.E.M. and the Cure, mostly, with a little New Order and Television thrown in - but they make it all sound absurdly crisp and new, like some kind of magic trick. Take "Mainland," the album's third track and one of several instant winners.
Keeping guitar rock on life support. It's a beautiful sound when everything comes together. On 2016's Talk Tight, Australian guitar fetishists Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever already had it all figured out. That EP was a rocket shot straight out of early '80s college radio, all jittery and jangly. Last year's The French Press doubled down on the caffeine angle with better, sharper songs, the jams unfurling out slightly longer, the lyrics more agitated.
Melbourne's Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever emerged with a finely-formed sound and style on their debut EP Talk Tight in 2016, which was further boosted by a record deal with Sub Pop, and sharpened on the impeccable second EP The French Press the following year. Their combination of effervescent guitars playing in unstoppable fluidity, coupled with disgruntled lyricism, was potent on all six of the tracks of that second collection, which was one of the most easily replayable releases of the year. The brevity of both EPs was a strength, as they were out and done with a flash, before the sound became homogenous.
Somehow, despite the overly complicated name, Melbourne five-piece Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever have been building a substantial amount of hype since their 2016 Talk Tight EP. This peaked with last year's excellent The French Press EP, the band's debut for Sub Pop, an excellent six-track, tightly wound guitar record which announced the band's arrival on the big stages of summer festivals for years to come. So now, with their debut full-length Hope Downs, the band look to consolidate their justified amount of hype, and, for the most part, generally succeed.
Easily one of the best singles of 2018 so far, its direct indie/punk/country amalgamation hitting you right to the core. And it isn't the first time these guys have done it. 2017's The French Press in particular showcased the band's knack for a tune, with tracks "Sick Bug'', "Colours Run'' and "Dig Up'' notable highlights. Thankfully, Hope Downs continues in the same style, at times recalling both the noodling post-punk of Television and the country/indie vibe of Deer Tick and Horse Thief .
The rise of Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever has been a rapid one, almost to the point that it's been easy to miss. Debut full-length 'Hope Downs' follows two quickfire EPs, and knows its game inside out. The ten tracks here largely come from the same rulebook: hooky indie-rock that's shiny and danceable on the surface, but holds far more wonder if peered at a little more closely.
There's something unmistakeably Australian about Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever. Their laid-back demeanour, wry lyrical delivery, passion for retrograde indie rock and the nuances that can be found within it. The latest guitar-wielding artists from the Pacific's current burgeoning scene are a band of dreamers, whose upbeat and hook-laden indie surf punk offsets the sombre undertones of their lyrics and has captured the hearts of many a listener, in the wake of the word-of-mouth success of 2017's 'The French Press' EP and rollicking lead single 'Talking Straight'.