Music Reviews
Sideways to New Italy

Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever Sideways to New Italy

(Sub Pop) Rating - 6/10

There’s been a bit of a shift in alternative music over the past few years towards something that could be known as playlist indie. The sort of wishy-washy pop/rock that has no identifiable marks or features that seemingly only exists to be in the background of sunset pictures on Instagram stories or creating a boring hipster aesthetic. For the most part, it’s impossible to see what anyone would be passionate about Tame Impala, but you’d be surprised by the number of people I’ve heard refer to Kevin Parker as the new John Lennon (it’s two).

Enter Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever, a group that seems adjacent to this bothersome aesthetic; but in opposition to the tread, they’ve got genuinely good songwriters. The Melbourne, Australia group came into prominence with their 2018 debut, Hope Downs, and while it had its' healthy amount of shimmering, echo-heavy acoustic guitars, the slick compositions brought the album beyond a stereotyped version of indie-pop. On Sideways to New Italy, the five-piece continues their solid methodology of songcraft, even if it may feel a little stale by the album’s end. It’s the cream of the crop when it comes to modern reverbed-out jangle pop, but there’s really only so much one can take when it comes to this midtempo playlist-rock.

One of the things that helps this project feel unique is the lead trio of singer/guitarists. Each vocalist gets a good opportunity to shine here, and the occasionally doubled vocals are a nice touch. Having a dedicated acoustic guitarist keeps a song like Not Tonight anchored in a shaggy summer hangout feel, making it an easy highlight. That virtue turns into a weakness on the penultimate Sunglasses at the Wedding, which unremarkably wanders for three minutes before a merciful end. Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever perfect their formula on the handsome and anthemic Cameo, and the warm closer The Cool Change, both of which would be perfect additions to a playlist filled with sunset pictures. What’s great about Sideways to New Italy is that it can be used as background noise, but anyone who has it in a vibe playlist will notice its' quality compared to its peers.