Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Talking Straight: A Quick Review Of The New Album From Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever

I've had Hope Downs by Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever for a few weeks and, even though the record is dropping on Sub Pop on Friday, the release feels like something I've been listening to for years, the Australian's five-piece's brand of indie-pop being that easy to embrace. The band have offered up some pretty impressive tracks before, but this new record is nearly flawless, and fans of stuff like The Go-Betweens or Television will find so much to love here.

This, the group's first full-length album proper, kicks off with the sharp, precise power-pop of "An Air-Conditioned Man", before the slightly-harder "Talking Straight" nods in the direction of old records from acts like The Verlaines, or even Tom Verlaine. The hook here, like so many on Hope Downs, is a huge one and it anchors, like on so many of the tracks on this Sub Pop release, a composition that harks back to an era when bands like The Chills or The Go-Betweens could make alt-rock that fed the brain as much as the heart. I mean, I'm not quite entirely sure what "Mainland" is going on about, but I do know that it has that literate pop-quality that one found on so many of the best selections from Forster and McLennan, for example. The rougher, twangier "Sister's Jeans" nods further back to stuff from Lou Reed or Verlaine for inspiration, the guitar-attack here an angular one behind the lyrics, while the bright "Cappucino City" sparkles and chimes, all easy "Streets Of Your Town"-charms wrapped around a lovely vocal performance.

So much of this, even harder stuff like "Exclusive Grave" and "The Hammer", places the music of Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever within reach of a favorable comparison to the classic releases from The Feelies, Pavement, and The dB's that we grew up with. The sound of Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever is a familiar one, but that's not to say that all of Hope Downs is simply derivative. Whatever they have learned from past bands, the boys in Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever have poured into their material here, as every song on Hope Downs feels like something you've loved for ages, or something you're gonna spin for a long time in the future over and over again.

Hope Downs is out on Friday via Sub Pop.

More details on Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever via the band's official Facebook page.

[Photo: Warwick Baker]