In early 2016, the release of Talk Tight put Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever on the map with glowing reviews from SPIN, Stereogum, and Pitchfork, praising them as stand-outs even among the fertile landcape of Melbourne music. Chock full of snappy riffs, spritely drumming and quick-witted wordplay, Talk Tight was praised “for the precision of their melodies, the streamlined sophistication of their arrangements, and the undercurrent of melancholy that motivates every note.” (Pitchfork)
Born from late night jam sessions in singer/guitarist Fran Keaney’s bedroom and honed in the thrumming confines of Melbourne’s live music venues, the band began to take shape as audiences got moving. Sharing tastes and songwriting duties, cousins Joe White and Fran Keaney, brothers Tom and Joe Russo, and drummer Marcel Tussie started out with softer, melody-focused songs. The more shows they played, the more those driving rhythms that now trademark their songs emerged. Since then, Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever rode that wave from strength to strength. Touring around the country on headline bills and festival slots all the way to BIGSOUND, they entrenched themselves with their thrilling live shows. Meanwhile, they were prepping their next release.
The French Press EP levels up on everything that made Talk Tight such an immediate draw. Multi-tracked melodies which curl around one another, charging drums and addictive bass lines converge to give each track its driving momentum. Honed through their live shows, this relentless energy carries the record through new chapters in the band’s Australian storybook.
Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever’s songs have always had all the page-turning qualities of a good yarn and The French Press EP is no different. Somewhere between impressionists and fabulists, lyricists Fran Keaney, Tom Russo and Joe White often start with something rooted in real life – the melancholy of travel on ‘French Press’, having a hopeless crush on ‘Julie’s Place’ – before building them into clever, quick vignettes. The result is lines blurred between fiction and reality – vibrant stories which get closer at a particular truth than either could alone.
On ‘French Press’, it’s a Skype call between two brothers – one gallivanting overseas, the other sitting in tedious comfort in some air-conditioned office. The freedom of one, having cast off physical and emotional ties and wrestling with liberation versus feeling lost, versus the grim routine – but also security – of the latter, all pivoting on a series of double meanings: The journalistic French press versus the coffee pot which symbolizes drab office culture, the disconnect people crave in escaping their homes versus the disconnect from everything they knew and cared about. And finally, the disconnect of a Skype call over a shoddy internet connection.
On first single ‘Julie’s Place’, it’s being young and dumb but full of bravado. It follows a lovesick narrator at a house party out in the country, as afternoon turns to night. Sprinting guitars mimic singer Fran Keaney’s pangs of heartache, his awkwardly sensual lyrics calling to mind the chaos and confusion of being around someone you can’t get off your mind.
‘Fountain of Good Fortune’ attacks selfishness, myopia, being content with living well even though everybody around you is doing it tough. It’s a sentiment familiar to anyone living in the shadow of Boomer Australia, where a desperate middle class elected two conservative governments in a row.
Blending critical insight and literate love songs, The French Press EP cements Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever as one of Australia’s smartest working bands.
Doors 8pm | Tickets $12+bf