Sideways To New Italy - the sophomore album from Australia's Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever - is a homage to the residents of an increasingly fast-moving and turbulent world. Channeling a refreshing and bright take on surf rock, RBCF tip their hat to their longstanding cultural background, evoking Australia’s vast, sprawling spaces through painterly songwriting.
Opener ‘The Second of the First’ hinges on swirling guitars and a blur of spoken word poetry, reiterating how “nothing is the same” into the song’s foreclosure, setting a bright precedent for the path of the album and its themes.
Highly regarded single ‘Falling Thunder’ swiftly follows, collecting transcendent harmonies aplenty as a placeholder to be the album’s standout track. ‘She’s There’ follows in the footsteps of it’s tracklist predecessor, maintaining momentum like a rampant flame with an inner indie legacy to uphold. It’s fair to say, Sideways To New Italy maintains the stamina of a consistent indie album.
Other highlights include ‘Beautiful Steven’ which continues this LP's tambourine-clad mission, portraying the open spaces of Melbourne through a dynamic sound space. Armed with the aid of a harmonica in the track’s funnelling introduction ‘The Only One’ is a love song suspended in a 70s surf rock bubble with a guiding bassline to match. ‘Cars in Space’ is a shining light of this band's ability to register long, drawn-out jams into their writing - and shows how their skill has progressed throughout their career. A killer track to lighten the darkest of days.
Much of the band's precise, instinctual songwriting is on display in Sideways To New Italy, though a handful of tracks lower the tone on what could have been a notably worthy second album. Whilst melodically sound, it's too easy to lose track of lyrics - with a handful of songs easy to identify as the fodder from the flame. Penultimate track ‘Sunglasses at the Wedding’ feels damp in it’s off-focused lyrics, as if it were the ghost of a hashed attempt to craft a soppy campfire ballad. An anomaly for sure, but one to be duly noted. The album’s final offering, ‘The Cool Change’ is level-headed, maintaining the chorus from the band’s earlier projects, from over a decade gone by.
Sideways To New Italy is released on 5 June 2020 via Sub Pop.