Review: Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever - 'Hope Downs' (Subpop)

Review: Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever - 'Hope Downs' (Subpop) Reminiscent of early 2000's indie-rock, Hope Downs, is a debut LP chocked full of sublime and sunny guitar-pop gems.
Posted: 18 June 2018 Words: Michelle Kim

Reminiscent of early 2000's indie-rock, Hope Downs, is a debut LP chocked full of sublime and sunny guitar-pop gems.

Hope Downs - yet another observational indie gem imported from Australia - which is under some kind of indie music export renaissance, currently. Melbourne based Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever are first and foremost a guitar band. They've been around for a few years before making an auspicious start last year, releasing their exceptionally well-received debut EP French Press via the eponymous Subpop. This record is the group's debut full-length offering and it's all about the guitars, the squalling guitars, the shimmery guitars, the woozy guitars, the squealing guitars, the jangly guitars, the choppy guitars and the sometimes raucous guitars. This group is armed with a plethora of guitar sounds and tricks as armoury, beware! With three vocalist-guitarists — Fran Keaney, Tom White, and Joe Russo, it's no surprise that guitars feature with such variety on Hope Downs where the majority of tracks are built around the interplay and swaps between each member - adding sound glue to their layered dynamics, which stick together then paste into a tight and driving bass and drum unit, like warm gel. Hope Downs is named after a mine in Western Australia anchoring itself to its roots from the off. It's beachy, it's sunny, it's shimmery, it's woozy, it's punk, it's observational, it's optimistic, it's young, it's laid back, it's many things, but most of all it's cohesive - both artistically and critically, because it sounds like where it comes from. Essentially it's the vibe of the group vocals which express this - with the sing and sing-talk style, all delivered in a laid-back Aussie drawl. Lead single and obvious hit track of the album 'Talking Straight' sounds like it belongs on an early 2000's indie playlist, evocative of bands like the Strokes and The Vines, with its punk energy and feel good sensibilities. 'Bellarine' epitomises their self-described sound as "soft punk, tough pop" with its pummeling drum and bass, and wild guitars, again Albert Hammond Jnr is channelled for his intermittent angular guitar riffs. 'Exclusive Grave' is a perfect example of the Dylan-inspired observational delivery, which modern Australian acts such as Courtney Barnett are employing to create their own sound and distinct brand of indie pop. Hope Downs is an exceptionally strong debut, brimming with the same promise and optimism which those early 2000's indie bands possessed. It's an album chocked full of sublime and sunny guitar-pop gems born from strong musical partnerships and a craftsmanship that we're excited to see develop.

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