Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever – ‘Endless Rooms’ review: new sounds and pointed lyrics

The Melbourne indie rockers expand their sonic palette and sharpen their lyrical knives on their third studio album

Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever’s latest record ‘Endless Rooms’ started to percolate two years ago, during the 2020 lockdown. With live shows cancelled and everyone stuck at home, the Melbourne quintet started working on new material, sharing ideas between themselves, and leaning into new sounds. But an isolated pandemic project, this is not. As soon as they could, the band decamped to a secluded house in regional Victoria to work on ‘Endless Rooms’ together.

The result is a record that’s imbued with live energy – ready-made for playing to dancing punters, crammed into sweaty venues like sardines or grooving pint in hand in front of festival stages. Their at-home experimentation is also apparent – the band’s trademark jangly indie rock that they’ve perfected over two albums (including 2020’s stellar ‘Sideways To New Italy’) and a handful of EPs is now fused with new influences.

Take title track ‘Endless Rooms’. An intriguing slow-burner, the tune threatens to launch into rambunctious rock – but instead, it pulls the rug out from under the listener. Fuelled by spidery guitar licks and plunking keys – as opposed to the band’s usual cantering rhythm section – it’s an uncommonly low-key moment for Rolling Blackouts. Meanwhile, album introduction ‘Pearl Like You’ is 60 seconds of ringing ice-cream-truck synths; ‘Dive Deep’ has lashings of squelchy, overdriven ’90s grunge; and ‘Blue Eye Lake’ boasts pop-hooks that’d feel at home on an early Killers cut.

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In a 2020 NME Australia cover story, RBCF explained their hesitancy to put their politics to song: “We are all very politically engaged and politically aware,” songwriter-guitarist Fran Keaney said. “But I don’t feel like we feel entitled to talk about these things… it’s a bit weird for five straight white dudes to be going, ‘We think this and we think that’.”

On ‘Endless Rooms’, the band don’t step onto the soapbox, though they make cutting observations that connect to causes they believe in. On ‘Caught Low’ they address the climate crisis (“Though the planet’s failing/Pink horizon stretches on”); while the powerful ‘Tidal River’ calls out the breezy ignorance of those who don’t acknowledge they’re living on stolen land: “Jetski over the pale reef/Chase the pill for some relief/As long as you don’t point out/What’s underneath/Your feet”.

Later, on stirring album closer ‘Bounce Of The Bottom’, the band capture the warped state of Australians scrolling through their feeds as bushfires rage: “Smoke cloud/Rolling through the old city… Looking for the filter/Laughing at the video/One nation under the blanket”. Sonically, they evoke this jarring reality by juxtaposing glockenspiel twinkles with jangling guitar.

‘Endless Rooms’ marks a judicious shift for Rolling Blackouts C. F. as they move beyond the driving indie-pop they’ve become well-known for. Pushing the boundaries of their sound and leaning into pointed lyricism, this record is a welcome new chapter for the band.

Details

  • Release date: May 6
  • Record label: Ivy League / Sub Pop
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