Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever has guitar rock in spades. The Melbourne quintet released their new album Sideways to New Italy with great fervor. Having three guitarists taking turns in songwriting has greatly defined their 80’s indie sound. It’s rich with layers of guitars that weave in through lead lines and rhythm, backed up by a steady bass and drums that hold it all in place and song structures that vary with each creative mind at the helm.
Sideways to New Italy follows the same ethos, just as their debut release Hope Downs once had. But while the latter was full of energy for the future ahead, Sideways moves in a slightly different direction, with plenty of reflections brought about by the aftermath of an 18 month tour.
This does not mean the energy has died down however, as proved by singles “She’s there” and the jangly “Cars In Space”, which are both pulsing with urgency. Rolling Blackouts are simply racing on to the next challenge, looking for new adventures and new boundaries to explore.
What’s new in this album is it’s touch of nostalgia and introspection, not only from the vintage sound but also with it’s exploration on new themes. The band takes steps in slowing down and looking around for new avenues to create, while still keeping their stellar guitar work on display. In “Sunglasses at the Wedding” the guitars are toned down and washed out to make way for singer Fran Keaney’s narration of a dream wedding. While in “Falling Thunder” we find the band blending shoegaz-y riffs while dealing with a constant stream of changes and figuring out how best to deal with them: “I keep my vision tight at all the deep scenes / A stationary boy in a moving daydream.”
Other prevalent themes include finding themselves back at home. In “Beautiful Steven”, Tom Russo lays down a teenage love story while reflecting on the people and places that have shaped him into who he is. “Only One” is a synth-pop delight that will take you back to the future with 80’s nostalgia. Joe White, sings about a new age cowboy who’s gone on an arduous journey and comes home to figure out his next steps: “I’m back in the state / To find another way / Back into the new world / That looks exactly the same.”
Sideways to New Italy finds Rolling Blackouts CF back at their point of origin with plenty of experience and insights to fuel a record of growth and evolution. Proving that sometimes, moving sideways is the way to move forward.