Confidence Man have new music, but it’s not going to tickle everyone’s fancy. Anyone who went to Australian music festival Splendour in the Grass in 2017 will remember the bubbly dance act revving up the crowd during their packed-out set in July. From basically out of nowhere the electronic group set the festival alight with their kooky antics and fruity pop tunes. They’ve already sparked a bucket of controversy, with fans slamming taxpayer-funded radio station Triple J’s claim after their Splendour set that they could be “the best up-and-coming” live band in Australia. Ferocious backlash was met on social media, as fans went to town on the increasingly out-of-touch national youth broadcaster. It’s quite clear from the reception that Confidence Man is a polarising act.
Their debut full-length, Confident Music for Confident People, featuring their breakout hit “Boyfriend” and current single “Don’t You Know I’m In A Band”, presents roughly 40 minutes worth of unrelenting dance music. It may not be everyone’s taste, especially for those predisposed to motion sickness, but for those who are chasing something to play at their next UV party, “CMFCP” has you sorted. There are some well-constructed analogue and digital basslines scattered throughout the record, most prominently on the opening track “Try Your Luck” and “C.O.O.L Party”. However, as well produced and catchy as the basslines are, you’re not going to be remembering “CMFCP” for its strings sections. Bright synth melodies dominate every track, with their almost goofy timbre often making you feel as if you’re in a 90s video game.
The album hits a high point at track five, “Out the Window”, and it’s probably because it’s the first time we get some real diversification of instrumentation and tempo. “Out The Window” shoots off in a refreshingly mellow tangent with a stripped-back approach. Well-produced vocals (tied in with a catchy melody) feature alongside a comparably clean piano line which will remind some listeners of Fatboy Slim’s “Praise You”.
The album returns to its goofy theme with the next track, “Catch My Breath”, which blasts back into an upbeat dance number featuring intermittent piano licks which help keep it fresh. The following track, “Bubblegum” continues the playfulness with an undeniably clever ‘pop’ before each drop. Despite the controversy surrounding the band, this one has to be a definite crowd pleaser.
“Sail Boat Vacation” serves as one of the most creative tracks on the album, an almost completely instrumental tune with a comparably smooth approach to production – with silky synths and heavily-effected basslines playing in and out of a bright scat melody. “Fascination” closes out the album more or less where it started, with an upbeat jam featuring nice cutaway sections, but by the time you reach the 11th track, the gimmick has more than done its dash. That is, if you’re listening to the tracks on this LP back-to-back. On their own, the songs provide a handy go-to on a party playlist when your dwindling housewarming reaches pass-out stage. But the album as a whole will struggle to keep the average listener interested beyond the third track.
Despite all that, you can’t help but hand it to the dancing duo of Janet Planet and Sugar Bones. They know how to have, and create, a good time. The group’s steep climb in popularity after their Splendour show highlights the importance of performance and antics in modern live music. Their light-hearted, tongue-in-cheek take on live entertainment and production has a refreshing tone to it and is something which is very obviously resonating with festival goers in the current climate. With the sheer volume of music being produced in Australia, Confidence Man are doing a good job of peacocking their head above the water.
Confident Music for Confident People is released Friday 13th April via Amplifire Music.