WHAT made Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever's 2018 album Hope Downs such an impressive debut was its ability to convey a sense of environment.
It was a truly Australian record. You could almost smell the eucalyptus wafting out the speakers as the Melbourne five-piece conjured up intricate indie-rock soundscapes through the three-pronged guitar assault.
Unsurprisingly the success of Hope Downs meant Rolling Blackouts C.F have spent a large portion of the ensuing two years on foreign soil. That dislocation is at the heart of the band's second album Sideways To New Italy.
Throughout the album singer-songwriters and guitarists Tom Russo, Joe White and Fran Keaney constantly express a feeling of being "outside".
That applies to international touring in the opener The Second Of The First, "And I feel outside it/ Lost on descent/ Like two transplanted palms" or longing for a loved one from the other side of the world on She's There, "I live on the outside of everything."
But Rolling Blackouts C.F also express a feeling of being "outside" on returning to a home, that's the same, yet changed.
The title references drummer Marcel Tussie's blink-and-you'll-miss-it Pacific Highway hometown on the NSW north coast, which serves as a tiny oasis to Italian culture. New Italy was developed by Venetian immigrants in 1882 to maintain a sense of their old country, and it's a sentiment that resonated with Rolling Blackouts C.F.
While the lyrics have a melancholic edge, the music is bright and propulsive. Rolling Blackouts C.F's trademark duelling guitar sound continues from Hope Downs, but is refined. Previously they wore their Go-Betweens influences too openly, but on Sideways To New Italy they have introduced a Americana twang on Not Tonight and Sunglasses At The Wedding and a Sonic Youth alternative grunt on The Second Of The First.
The album does lack an euphoric single like Talking Straight and Mainland, but Rolling Blackouts C.F have managed to walk that delicate tightrope of moving forward without dispelling what brought their fans to the dance.
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