Coming in one track shy of the seven that made up 2016’s mini-LP, Talk Tight, Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever is back almost exactly one year later with The French Press. The six songs that found their way onto the Australian quintet’s new EP harken back to a pre-Spotify world when jangly, upbeat guitar pop acts from Down Under, like The Lucksmiths, Ben Lee, and The Go-Betweens dominated international indie pop fans’ mixtapes and boutique record label compilations.
While comparisons to musical predecessors from RBCF’s homeland are unavoidable, the new EP’s title track, which opens the record, is perhaps most immediately reminiscent of Hershey, Pennsylvania indie pop stalwart’s The Ocean Blue. With a dreamily strummed flourish and a quick, steady beat, “French Press” starts things off in fine form, gently easing the listener in with earnestly sung, universally relatable lyrics like, “You find out who your friends are when the city’s cold.”
The album’s lead single, “Julie’s Place”, takes advantage of the band’s extra pair of hands. A sustained electric guitar lead sneaks in and follows just beneath quickly strummed acoustics as casually sung lyrics pleasantly contrast the tempo, creating tension until the song’s soaring chorus arrives. “Sick Bug” finds the band changing gears a bit, utilizing minor chord turns to add a moodier edge without letting up on the accelerator.
French Press’ second half offers little deviation in terms of tempo and approach. Listeners expecting a ballad amongst this latest batch will be disappointed. All things considered, however, the collection is remarkably strong in terms of songwriting quality and overall enjoyability. Still, Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever fans waiting for a curveball in terms of pace and style may have to wait a bit longer.