If Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever previously drew strength from their time together, you wouldn’t know it after the release of Endless Rooms. Not because the album lacks force – quite the opposite – but because the group found themselves forced to create in new settings, separated by pandemic quarantines. The time apart clearly hasn’t hindered them, as each member found ways to dig into the artistic process after only a short time together. Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever looked to expand their sound, which they did, while also increasing their consideration of the world around them, even from enclosed spaces.
After a couple of albums and a couple of EPs, Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever had pretty much locked down their sound, a take on jangle-pop with a little more edge to it (and some extra guitar). For Endless Rooms, they continue to move toward that edge, introducing some more punkish tones even as they broaden their output. The opening track “Pearl Like You” is just a trick, a door squeaking before some Phil Collins mood music introduces the record. Don’t believe it, though; the Australian rockers might welcome you into their mystery house as if it’s a formal dinner, but they bring too much energy to stick with that commencement.
Immediately after, Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever turn loose for “Tidal River”, an indictment of those who numb themselves with silly pleasures while the world burns, quite literally in some cases. Endless Rooms maintains its Australian grounding, and while songs like “Tidal River” might apply to much of the world, they come from a particular time and location. The recent bushfires illuminate much of the record, from the fiery ceiling in that cut to the “Smoke cloud / Rolling through the old city” in “Bounce Off the Bottom”. Over the past few years, we’ve all had to deal with the particular obviousness of the world falling apart. Rolling Blackouts use literal fires to point to the world’s problem. The group hasn’t been so political before now, but responding to the world becomes more essential when you find yourself next to an inferno.
Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever haven’t suddenly turned to agitpop. Other standout tracks like “My Echo” and “Dive Deep” focus on personal or interpersonal concerns. Regardless of the topic, the band keeps the sound tight. Over their few years together, their college rock sound has been expanding, and keeping it a little roughed up gives these songs that sort of grit that suits the lyrics. The anger and frustration have a proper outlet, but the surprising hope within the record’s worldview.
At times, the Go-Betweens still work as a touchstone (and not just because of Australia), but a little sandpaper here and a little spark there has pushed this group into its own space, capable of dealing with a variety of issues. By weaving in and out of broader and more intimate concerns, Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever create an album with a wide scope that ties together. The rooms might be endless, but they make sense as a single structure.