The Melbourne indie rockers return with a third album that expands on their trademark jangle to stunning effect
There are many unfortunate side effects to a pandemic. A lesser one is that almost two years of the traditional album/tour/album/tour merry-go-round has been chopped up and rearranged.
As a result, Melbourne’s Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever released a stunner of a second album (2020’s Sideways To New Italy) that never got to earn its road legs. Instead, before the band even got around to their rescheduled UK shows, they’ve returned with a third full-length, written in lockdown and recorded in the windows in between at a house in the bush belonging to the Russo brothers’ family. The upshot to all this is the band now has two stunners to take on the road this month and next.
Endless Rooms eases its way in with the creak of a door and atmospheric electronics that sound more like some lost 80s soundtrack snippet than the band’s traditional jangle. It’s briefly disorientating and enticing, before ‘Tidal River’ blows in with a martial drumbeat and squeaky clean guitars. If it’s a little jammier than the band’s previous output, it’s still contained in the distinctly satisfying phases.
There’s no let up in pace as RBCF launch straight from there into the wonderful ‘The Way It Shatters’, a rip-roaring track that swoops and soars like all their best work, typified by those intertwining, chiming guitar parts. ‘My Echo’ belongs in that same category of what would typically be called Rolling Blackout’s strong suit of jangly guitars, huge hooks and motorised rhythms.
Throughout Endless Rooms, Rolling Blackouts feel looser than before, happy to take a while longer before letting a song take flight. This ethos comes to the fore on the lovely ‘Caught Low’ which waits two and a half minutes before Joe Russo’s bass drops an octave and slides into a satisfying groove. The guitars pine like pitch-corrected whale song and the whole thing swells beautifully. It’s the kind of moment that feels created by five guys alone in a house in the bush.
To that end, ‘Blue Eye Lake’ gives the impression that you’re in the house yourself, hearing it through the walls,. The muffled opening guitar leads you down the hallway to throw open the door to hear it all clearer, before the double time chorus gets the party started. There are few things better than guitar pop you can dance to.
Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever have described this as their anti-concept album. That’s evident throughout, the 12 tracks tied together more by a feeling or a sound than any direct themes. Even when the tempos increase, it feels relaxed, letting the hooks find their own way. There’s plenty that hits the spot instantly (‘The Way It Shatters’, the lovely ‘Open Up Your Window’), but more songs than usual that unfurl a bit more gradually. By the fourth or fifth listen, it’s making a case for greatness.