It's rare that a band's debut album sounds as confident and self-assured as Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever's Hope Downs. To say that the first full-length from the Melbourne quintet improves on their buzz-building EPs from the last few years would be an understatement: the promise those early releases hinted at is fully realized here, with ten songs of urgent, passionate guitar pop that elicit warm memories of bands past, from the Go-Betweens' jangle to the charmingly lo-fi trappings of New Zealand's Flying Nun label. But don't mistake Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever for nostalgists: Hope Downs is the sound of a band finding its own collective voice.
With the help of engineer/producer Liam Judson and his portable setup, the band recorded Hope Downs live, and co-produced ten guitar pop gems over the course of two weeks in Northern New South Wales during the winter of 2017. Hope Downs possesses a robust full-band sound that's all the more impressive considering the band's avoidance of traditional recording studios. If you loved Talk Tight and The French Press, you certainly won't be disappointed here – but you might also be surprised at how the band's sound has grown. There's a richness and weight to these songs that was previously only hinted at, from the skyscraping chorus of "Sister's Jeans" to the thrilling climax of album closer "The Hammer."
Hope Downs is as much about the people that populate the world around us – their stories, perspectives, and hopes in the face of disillusionment – as it is about the state of things at large. It's a record that focuses on finding the bright spots at a time when cynicism all too often feels like the natural state. Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever are here to remind us to keep our feet on the ground – and Hope Downs is as delicious a taste of terra firma as you're going to get from a rock band right now.