As someone who calls Australia home, I’ve often been asked what Australians are actually like. This is a mind-bogglingly difficult question to answer. I always answer that we’re chill, laid-back, and relaxed. What I did there was use three synonyms in order to make it seem like I have a lengthy answer. It works 100% of the time. So when Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever (RCBF) answers that their inspiration for their music is basically, “Australia and what it was and what it is,” I’m sort of stumped here. Australia is to me sunshine living and breeding on your skin, mate(might)ship, and, uhm, eggs and beetroot burgers.
Whether this is what RBCF had in mind when conceiving their debut mini-LP Talk Tight is anyone’s guess. What I will say is that the music is definitely radiant, luminous, and sunlit. It’s in the middle of the Venn Diagram that’s got Courtney Barnett (Melbourne), Twerps (Melbourne), Blank Realm (Brisbane) in one set and Violent Soho (Brisbane), Smith Street Band (Melbourne), and Royal Headache (Sydney) in the other. It surfs from infectious daydream guitar pop to charged up it-costs-$1,500-to-fly-to-anywhere-from-here cheeky punk.
Closer ‘Career’ is perhaps the easiest song to relate to. A spiking drum fill to start the song, then guitars like rainbows give way to a playful bass line. The song’s a poke at a particular yuppie who lives by the motto “hard work is its own reward” and who “has went and got a career”, silk tie and ’09 Ford included. The guitar solo after the second chorus is a corker—swirling and scaling upwards, the rhythm guitars speeding in angst. The half-spoken half-spit delivery of ‘c-c-career” is mocking, perhaps even spiteful, only understood if you know about (the mainly Antipodean) Tall Poppy Syndrome—where people who have made it are criticised for sticking their head up above a crowd.
The band can get sentimental too. ‘Wide Eyes’ may be a fast song but lines like “Lookin’ at me while I’m bouncing outta the door, goosebumps on your skin while swimming at Clovelly” are Kodak moments in prose, filter or none. ‘Heard You’re Moving’ is a monologue to a school (girl) friend who’s moving away, the tone carrying injustice and hopelessness. Again, however, the rhythm is completely suitable for dancing. Drums snap and the bass bounces. Like the rest of the album, the guitars have a upbeat vibe and cheery disposition even if the vocalist sings “when are the walls coming down, am I ever going to see you girl?”
So, what’s Australian about all that? It’s not a stretch to evoke the ‘Aussie Battler’, the colloquialism referring to the ordinary individual who perseveres amidst adversity. Things could suck—we’ve got the Liberal party in charge, killer wildlife, and Vitamin D deficiency rates—but it doesn’t stop us having fun. As my ex-football team mates used to say whenever we went a goal or even several goals down, “heads up!”
Talk Tight is out starting March 25 on Ivy League Records.