Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever - Hope Downs
Critic Score
Based on 22 reviews
2018 Ratings: #127 / 669
Year End Rank: #1
User Score
Based on 115 ratings
2018 Ratings: #194
June 15, 2018 / Release Date
LP / Format
Sub Pop / Label
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A.V. Club

Hope Downs more than delivers on the promise of the Melbourne quintet’s two early EPs, doubling down on the melancholy pop it forged on 2015’s Talk Tight and last year’s The French Press while also polishing its sound.

No Ripcord

When it comes down to it, Hope Downs ultimately succeeds thanks to its impressive quality control. There's not a single bad song on here, only slight variances in tone and luster. A similar comparison could be made to R.E.M.'s groundbreaking debut effort, Murmur, and though it won't have the same impact, the album does share that same meticulous rendering of ringing guitars.

It's a small-scale triumph of hooks and guitars from a band whose members have figured it all out and delivered a debut album that comes as close to perfect as any guitar pop album can.

Let’s be clear. Hope Downs doesn’t invent anything “new”. It’s the kind of record I could have been listening to when I was 15 and still be playing now, timeless in its past and future reach.

Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever have more tricks up their sleeves, it seems. For a debut, though, a couple tricks are enough, especially when you’ve already mastered them.
Even within the realm of contemporary indie, the band is a glorious anomaly. Sophisticated and subversive in equal measure, their staccato sing-alongs come on pristine and precise, then unspool in surprising directions as decorum gives way to abandon.

This first full album features ten songs showing a fresh, impressive mix of melodic propulsion and, at the same time, strong jangling versatility.

Northern Transmissions

With Hope Downs, Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever prove that although they’re among the best and most exciting music to come out of Australia today, they can’t be lumped in with their compatriots, whether those groups are defunct like the Go-Betweens or contemporary.

Loud and Quiet
The result is at once unique and familiar – different, without being too alien.
The Skinny

Mostly ... Hope Downs is as good a reminder as any that life’s a blast. Head to the beach, you’ve found the soundtrack.

God Is in the TV
This is a salubrious, satisfying record that bears for repeated listens. It’s beautifully melancholic without ever being particularly introspective; its crosshairs are cast out and paying attention to the small detail that we encounter everyday.
Rolling Stone
Every amp tone on this album is just sweet enough, every jangling rhythm hits exactly where it should. Rolling Blackouts are playing an old game, but they're damned good at it.
What Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever do best, is know exactly what they do best. Delightfully assured and beautifully executed – ‘Hope Downs’ is a perfect snapshot of everything the band have promised and represented from the beginning. If you were looking for that soundtrack to BBQ days with an ice cream and the shades on, Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever have delivered it.

Ultimately, the record triumphs via Rolling Blackouts’ deep inhabitation of their music, and the space of its creation.

That RBCF already perfected their sound, three records in, has me giddy for the future.
Under The Radar

Now, with their debut full-length Hope Downs, the band look to consolidate their justified amount of hype, and, for the most part, generally succeed.

The 405

None of the songs on Hope Downs are a massive leap in style from what we’ve known from Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever in the past ... but there are a few minor outliers, which diversify the album enough to make it a very enjoyable listen.

The Line of Best Fit

Hope Downs is a record that sounds like it was made in the Australian bush, and it’s when this sense of local experience is presented most effectively that it really starts to shine.

With ‘Hope Downs’, Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever have an album that radiates the warmth of the Australian sunshine and the grubbiness of the bush. It’s a road record to soundtrack a hazy journey across the outback in search of a lost love, contemplating the world whilst swigging on a beer. ‘Hope Downs’ is far from perfect, but it has charm in abundance.

Hope Downs is the sound of RBCF's expansive horizons.

The Independent

It’s freewheeling one minute, and a little awkward the next.

If there’s anything to criticise ‘Hope Downs’ for, it’s its risk-averse approach, and tendency to become a one-dimensional listen, but as a debut record, it presents a band that know exactly what they’re doing, and proceed to do it very well indeed.
Whipsmart songs, great playing, cool... and tunes that you'll want to go back to again and again.
This record is a like a mixture of The War On Drugs guitar instrumentals and Kevin Morby Vocals. Enjoyable to say the least but lacks the spark.
1. An Air Conditioned Man 7.1/10
2. Talking Straight 7.6/10
3. Mainland 6.9/10
4. Time in Common 6.9/10
5. Sister's Jeans 7.2/10
6. Bellarine 6.5/10
7. Cappuccino City 6.2/10
8. Exclusive Grave 7.4/10
9. How Long? 6.9/10
10. The Hammer 6.7/10
11. *Personal "intangibles" rating* 7.5/10

Total: 77/110 = 70%
Favorite tracks: Talking Straight, Mainland, Sister's Jeans, Bellarine
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#5/Rough Trade

Track List

  1. An Air Conditioned Man
  2. Talking Straight
  3. Mainland
  4. Time in Common
  5. Sister's Jeans
  6. Bellarine
  7. Cappuccino City
  8. Exclusive Grave
  9. How Long?
  10. The Hammer
Contributions By
thisisabtlgrnd, patton, alegonzriv
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Added on: April 16, 2018