Would it be too much of a mouthful to say that you might just catch Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever fever after hearing this EP?
When there are almost as many words in a band's name as there are songs on their debut EP, you might be led to believe that the sheer brevity of the EP could limit its ability to captivate the listener. But in the case of “Talk Tight”, the first release from Melbourne group Rolling Blackouts Costal Fever (say that three times fast), you'd be wrong. Having recently supported Australian alternative legends Something For Kate in their anticipated return to the stage, RBCF continue to make waves on this record. The upbeat, folky grooves of “Wither With You” recall the catchier tunes of fellow Aussie, Paul Kelly. The endearingly drawling vocal style of the track is also quite Paul Kelly, however, RBCF weave in slightly grittier guitar sounds as well, bringing the Lemonheads to mind.
Those who are already liking the sound of “Talk Tight” should note that from here, the album takes something of a stylistic turn. The guitar sounds are much more reminiscent of surf rock on “Wide Eyes”, particularly when they move within small intervals and are accompanied by driving kit work. It's been a long time since Australian bands have dabbled so readily in surf sounds. Those who did though, the Sunnyboys and Radio Birdman in the 1970s and 1980s, are cherished by many in the land down under.
Despite this however, the combination of those drawling vocals with surf rock grooves in the EP's core sometimes becomes a little difficult to listen to. The group seems keen to hook the listener into the energy of their tracks, but they do this better when they take the noise levels down a notch. We're more engaged when the band are ready to pay more attention to vocal harmonies and to limiting the sheer volume of their soundscape. It's not that the driving, surf-influenced portions are ineffective, we're just a bit numb to their energy by the end of “Clean Slate”.
In a refreshing turn, the group concludes their debut with what is perhaps the most considered track they have to offer, “Tender Is the Neck”. This more lyrical mood is encapsulated in the understated introduction to the song and the opening lyric: “She started telling him a story, it was a January splendour." The chordal choices of the track are more creative, and are a welcome change from the somewhat atonal vocal style of the previous few tracks. The chorus of this track is resoundingly Lemonheads, as was “Wither With You” at times. To that end, the band should be congratulated for how cohesive this small assortment of tracks is. The temptation to construct an EP which is just a grab bag of jarring tonal shifts seems to be all too inviting for some groups these days. Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever use a surf-encrusted core and folkier book-ends to steer clear of this misadventure. It's a colourful debut, but let's just hope RBCF are willing to explore the folkier influences that we've had glimpses of here when we next hear from them.