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Of all the acts I saw at Dot to Dot Festival 2017, Australian electronic dance quartet Confidence Man were the most memorable and I’ve been a fan ever since. Their music has just the right balance of showmanship and positive energy to get a whole crowd moving and it makes their live performances very impactful.
The band is fronted by vocalists Janet Planet and Sugar Bones whilst Reggie Goodchild and Clarence McGuffie handle the instruments from behind veils to exaggerate their removal from the limelight. These aren’t real names, rather pseudonyms – imagine Daft Punk but meandering twenty-somethings instead of robots.
At the core of Confidence Man’s music is their parody of the tragic, shallow nature of modern pop lyrics – parties, drinking, drama, meaningless relationships and sex are all poked fun at in their debut record ‘Confident Music for Confident People’. Further than mere ironic lyricism, the record manages to deliver their musings over catchy dance beats, synth lines and basslines.
Opening track ‘Try Your Luck’ tells the tale of a hedonistic hook-up in a bright vocal chant akin to a poppy ‘Immigrant Song’ [Led Zeppelin], introducing the real essence of the album. ‘Don’t You Know I’m In A Band’ continues this, with the soft, bellowing vocals of Sugar Bones poking fun at the exploitable allure that comes with telling people that you perform in a creative Yello-meets-LCD Soundsystem style, while ‘Boyfriend’ discusses Janet’s relationship boredom over an addictive instrumental which manages to surprisingly maintain the high momentum.
The bass lines of ‘C.O.O.L. Party’ flow over deep groovy layers, creating a rhythmic flow from one beat to the next, which eventually evolves into a lush disco track. ‘Out The Window’ is the album’s much needed deceleration: a cool, baggy-beat breather with dreamy vocals which eventually turns into a Screamadelica-style gospel piece that really showcases the vocalists’ range, and some hints of brass layered into the background create a bit of a ‘Love This Giant’ vibe. This track was a welcome sound from Confidence Man as it quelled any worries that they were style-over-substance, showing their ability to master a more sincere tone than that we’re used to.
The simple lyrics of ‘Catch My Breath’ over a slow, warm bassline with a Chic-esque flick really gets your feet moving, in a way almost reminiscent of ‘Everybody Dance’. The band slowly and cleverly build the tempo, without reaching full-on rave levels. This creates a comfortable level of dance which eases the transition back to the baggy-beats of ‘Bubblegum’ and ‘Better Sit Down Boy’: two short, bursting rollercoasters starting and stopping again to get you bopping.
The short instrumental, ‘Sail Boat Vacation’, echoes Todd Terje: blasting layers of squelching synths and electric piano together to satisfy the need for a deep and complex instrumental sequence. ‘All The Way’ explores the phases and promises of an impulsive, destructive relationship in deep, building, soaking layers. Album closer ‘Fascination’ rocks towards and away from you with cheeky innuendos, creating a youthfulness and playfulness that says the band are ready to do it all again.
I love this album and it’s great to have a collection of Confidence Man’s material. Every track is infectious and I know it’s going to be my soundtrack to the summer. However, I think that there is work still to be done: ‘Fascination’ isn’t as bombastic as I would like a closer to be and I think the album is missing some longer instrumentals to indulge in. Confidence Man, as a concept, to me should be more lyrically complex and extreme as a whole, my main fear with this album came true in that it was developed little beyond a collection – though this is the sort of thing to work on in the future and I’m excited to see what Confidence Man do next. Until then, definitely check out this hilarious and energetic album!
Confident Music For Confident People is out now, via Heavenly Recordings.
Upcoming UK live dates:
25th May – All Points East Festival, London
30th May – Village Underground, London
10th June – Parklife Festival, Manchester
1st July – TRNSMT Festival, Glasgow
13th – 15th July – Latitude Festival, Suffolk
27th – 29th July – Standon Calling Festival, Hertfordshire
27th – 29th July – Port Eliot Festival, Cornwall
3rd – 5th August – Wilderness Festival, Oxfordshire
10th – 12th August – Boardmasters Festival, Cornwall