A little over 10,000 miles sideways of their native Italian province, there’s an age-old community of Venetian settlers who have long exemplified the phrase “a home away from home”. Occupying a small patch of land just shy of the New South Wales coastline, their small and aptly named village New Italy serves up an unlikely oasis and is something of a manufactured reality. With replica Roman statues scattered like souvenirs across the otherwise rural landscape, it’s a nostalgic projection of once-familiar surroundings.
Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever are no strangers to such synthetic home comforts.
After two years touring the duelling guitars and old-school indie charm of 2018’s Hope Downs, relentless leapfrogging had set the band adrift, unsure of where of what they’d used to call home. Drained and disorientated, their loosening grip on identity lays out the rocky foundations for their new album. Sideways To New Italy acts as an abiding memory, a beacon of home and the forgotten fragments that once defined it.
Well-versed in detailed, cinematic song writing, they flick through anecdotal snapshots of rolling hills and inner-city streets, all recounted through wide-angled frames of rose-tinted nostalgia. Better polished than previous ventures, rich textures smooth over the edges of their angular debut, albeit retaining its jangly pop sensibilities. Packed out production on ‘The Second Of The First’ accelerate across plains of Springsteen-styled guitar jams. Sideways To New Italy is remarkably panoramic, its geographic instrumentation stretching far beyond the distant horizon.
Though undetectable to the naked ear, Sideways To New Italy is littered with the relics of Rolling Blackouts’ past. Wiping the dust from selected artefacts, they revive chords from surplus debut jams on ‘Cameo’, whilst the chorus from ‘The Cool Change’ is a reimagined demo from the band’s early days playing as a trio. Scattering guest vocals from friends and burying Easter eggs only detectable for those who are keenly familiar with the band’s history, Sideways To New Italy makes up a unique time capsule that’s engineered as much to thrill their audience as to indulge the band’s own sentimentality.
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