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ROLLING BLACKOUTS COASTAL FEVER Sideways To New Italy gets 7/10


Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever
Sideways to New Italy
Ivy League

7/10

After 2018’s Hope Downs catapulted Sydney’s Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever to indie rock stardom – particularly in Australia, but also overseas – it’s a case of more of the same on Sideways to New Italy. The album displays gentle progression as opposed to experimental innovation; simply put, it’s business as usual for the Melbourne outfit.

Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever are constantly inspired by their indie antecedents who flourished in the 1980s – bands like The Go-Betweens and New Zealand’s The Chills – and this type of sound never goes out of fashion. It’s energetic, enthusiastic, and brimming with confidence. The same jangling rock remains from Hope Downs, as does the intelligent and reflective songwriting.

They have still also found intriguing and wry names for their songs – Cars In Space and Sunglasses At The Wedding being the highlights. The former also bears a close resemblance to their hit An Air Conditioned Man from Hope Downs in its opening melodic rattle.

The three-pronged guitar attack that Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever offer has always been one of their main draws and it’s no different here. Vocalists/guitarists Fran Keaney, Tom Russo, and Joe White still interchange superbly, sharing their stories and ideas. On a song like The Only One, for example, the guitar interplay is sublime.

Listened to as a whole, a weary and wistful atmosphere broods over the music. They’re certainly more assured as a band now but one senses a little hesitation in the album. Second albums have always proven tremendously difficult for bands, especially ones who seemed to arrive on the scene extremely suddenly, so there’s method behind the safe sound on Sideways to New Italy. Moving forward, though, the trio will need to find a more muscular and radical mode if they are to grow as a band.

CONOR LOCHRIE

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