Album Review: Confidence Man – Confident Music for Confident People

The weather is pretty piss-poor. It’s miserable. It’s a right bastard. Whatever word you throw at it, it all amounts to the same realisation: we need something sunny and uplifting to break the gloom! People, too, cast their heads down and are missing that sense of optimism – it is a rather gloomy and depressing time. We look to music to get some sense and brightness; to counteract the miasma and downbeat around us. I am making it all seem rather hopeless: the immense Confidence Man are here to give us a sonic explosion, multifarious vivacity and sunshine…

The Melbourne-based act has shown the music world, already, they are a cut above their competition. They recently told NME there is not enough ‘dork’ in dance right now. Things are too serious and studied – where are the geeky and goofy alternatives that can throw away conventions and provide something special and original? Janet Planet, when speaking with NME, explained Confidence Man’s writing process: essentially, a series of drunken writing sessions and good laughs. That sounds sloppy and not conducive to great music but songs like ‘Boyfriend (Repeat)’ and ‘Better Sit Down Boy’ shoot that theory in the head. Behind the mystique, pseudonyms – Janet Planet is not the one and only odd name you’ll see flying about the band – and booziness is a brilliant band who, on 13th April, have the chance to bring a much-needed dose of spring.

Confident Music for Confident People, their debut album, has many twists and surprises. The nuance of ‘Boyfriend (Repeat)’s bassline, the brilliance of ‘Out the Window’ – the way all the songs sound different yet hold together supremely. ‘Try Your Luck’ starts out with nostalgia that recalls 1990s house classics and a time when dance music had a proper role in the mainstream. The natural and proprietary blends from Confidence Man come to the fore: bubbling and hissing beats, breezy, intriguing vocals and standout lyrics. Our heroine is sleeping with a friend’s ex – she is the best he’s ever had, it seems. A melting of 90s dance and 80s pop means ‘Try Your Luck’ gets stuck in the head and brilliantly opens the album. The chorus brings futuristic, zooming beats and funk-like scuffle into the pot while the lyrics get cheeky and teasing – the man is on his knees and the sweat begins to drip down the window pane. ‘Don’t You Know I’m in a Band’ and ‘Boyfriend (Repeat)’ complete a brilliant 1-2-3. ‘Don’t You Know I’m in a Band’ shift the vocals to Sugar Bones’ lead – a deep and almost robotic-like boom that provides a dynamic and sonic change.

‘Boyfriend (Repeat)’ talks of reputation, repetition and the boredom of a relationship – waking up every day with the boy in her bed – and the need to break the cycle. Its insatiable inventiveness and gleeful, infantile energy shows why so many people are getting hot over Confidence Man. ‘Out the Window’ produces one of the most surprising songs from the group. Duetting vocals are softer, and the song is a calmer and more level-headed thing. That is not to say there is a lack of bounce and punch: the fuzzing, warped electronics are funky and head-nodding. ‘Bubblegum’ is the inescapable highlight of the album. From the racing, clattering beats and to a twanging glee, it’s a song that hooks you from the very start. The heroine wishes she had a bloke to take to her parents but really she wants all manner of things, as desires and ‘to-dos’ float and flood her wandering mind. The chorus is an explosion of brilliance and merriment while delirious and effervescent beats mix with whooshing vocals and heady scents. ‘Better Sit Down Boy’ starts with pulsating, trance-like smash. The concrete, kick-to-the-nuts punch takes you from clubs of the 80s to a modern-day factory rave, after-hours and highly illicit. That soon changes as the song opens into a confident and we-all-know-who-is-in-control vocal; those unique Confidence Man lyrics which, like the rest of the album, have tongues firmly planted in cheeks.

‘Sail Boat Vacation’ and ‘All the Way’ are fantastic tracks but, against the rest of the pack, do not possess the same verve, depth and memorability. One of the only criticisms of Confident Music for Confident People is the sheer energy and pace. Most of the songs are between three-and-four minutes: the eleven-track album packs a lot in and it might take a couple of listens to truly absorb the record. Once one has digested the rush of ‘Bubblegum’ (track 7), there is not a lot of fuel left in the tank to properly appreciate the remaining four songs. ‘Fascination’, luckily, provides a bit of a lift and remedy – albeit, one that is quite lewd! Call it smut, innuendo or pure cheekiness, it’s a song that has an impish grin and produces rather vivid images. It is a great way to end the album and shows Confidence Man have plenty of invention and diversity left in the pipes for album 2.

The Australian group are heading to the UK in May and are taking Confident Music for Confident People to the masses. Whilst there are a couple of weaker moments on the record, the vast majority of the songs stick in the head and provoke an awesome reaction. It is a fantastic and impressively bold effort from Janet Planet, Sugar Bones, Reggie Goodchild and Clarence McGuffie. If you have not turned yourself on to the genre-hopping, decade-unifying delights of the Melbourne band, you need to get your mind around an album that brings some much-needed skip and invigoration into the scene – just what we need given the rather damp and dreary weather!