More Dancing, More Action: Confidence Man deliver with debut album
The rise of CONFIDENCE MAN has been truly remarkable. From their debut single, ‘Boyfriend (Repeat)’, the impact was instantaneous, and, partly thanks to an expertly executed marketing strategy but mostly thanks to the sheer fun of it all, they’ve gone from nothing to everything in about 18 months. Their success is worldwide, playing just about every festival an alt-indie dance band from Australia could hope to play, and the reputation of their insane live show precedes them. Now, they’ve released their debut album, Confident Music for Confident People, and it begs the question – what does a band like Confidence Man bring to music in 2018? With stand out singles such as the aforementioned ‘Boyfriend (Repeat)’, ‘Bubblegum’ and ‘Better Sit Down Boy’, as well as most recently the very-much-tongue-in-cheek, ‘Don’t You Know I’m In A Band’, plus remixes from absolute legends in the scene such as Andrew Weatherall, can Confidence Man meet the expectations their success has set for them?
The short answer is yes – CONFIDENCE MAN followed through. They’ve unashamedly stacked an album with bangers, fulfilling the promise of naming their debut long form release, Confident Music For Confident People. The move was ballsy indeed, but also so right as track after track, Confidence Man demonstrate their entirely on-brand version of Australia’s heinously accessible version of LCD Soundsystem. Partying so hard in the gap between pop and indie electronica, they seem to set to be the missing link.
The album is nothing short of a banger factory, that point cannot be stressed enough – if you are looking for a party-starting album to appeal to a wide range of people, you’ve got it. Yet, it’s also an album that flirts with the same ideas over and over. Utilising the same set of sounds (the cowbell, retro-space synths and that one riff, you’ll know when you hear it), Confidence Man blurs the line between an identifiable style and a little too much repetition. However, the thing about Confident Music for Confident People is that it’s also a lot more than this. For a band that started out just playing around and making songs they’d want to dance to at parties, they’ve always just done what works for them and taken those willing along for the ride. To hold their album under a microscope and assess it against a black and white criteria of what makes a “great album” in 2018 does a disservice not only to the band and their art, but to pop itself. It misses some marks, but that’s because they never set out to hit those marks in the first place, and such is the beauty of pop music in the modern day in that it really can be anything you want it to be.
A lot of the sounds pop up over and over again, but the repetitive nature of the album doesn’t stop them from being fun songs. In Confidence Man’s case, an album seems like an artistic formality, a symbolic nod that as a heavily touring live act, they need a reference point for fans new and old to go to. Confidence Man have been lauded for their live show, their dance routine, general stage presence and crowd interactions. The infamous Golden Plains video show that Confidence Man’s got their appeal and catapulted them to be one of the most exciting new forces in the Australian music scene. Thousands of punters hang on their every word and, importantly, get down. A critique that their album doesn’t develop, actively engage or explore its subject matter may be a moot point because it was never intended to do so. It doesn’t seem about how far they go, but how boldly they do it.
The real highlight of the album is ‘Out The Window’, a Janet Planet led track in which she sings, which is rare on the album. The track is more of a slow-build, making it one of the few tracks to deviate from Confidence Man’s insistence that all of life is a party. It’s got an impressive beat behind it, and Janet sounds like the narrator of a daytime trip before it explodes into a kaleidoscopic, euphoric jam that features a solid groove and a heavenly choir to really take it to a whole new level. This shows what Confidence Man are capable of, anchoring all the fun and noise either side of the song in its sheer impressiveness. Showing a previously unexplored range of Confidence Man, it’s a considered and thoughtful dance track that has a timeless feel to it and gives a sent of excitement to what might still be up their sleeves. It also, in a way, develops Janet’s personality further out of her Bored/Sexy/Party–based psyche, unveiling the creativity that spearheads the act. Other gems include ‘All The Way’ serving as another excellent example of Confidence Man’s potential; the song is uplifting and begs a sing-a-long but the lyrics are tongue-in-cheek, best being, ‘We’ll go out and cheat together.’ It’s a snuck in sort of joke, easily glided over if fans aren’t paying attention, while the mostly-instrumental ‘Catch My Breath’ shows the band are more than capable of diversifying their sound and able to stand on their own without relying on kitschy verses.
Confidence Man’s brand of on-the-nose satire pop can be easy to write off as cheap as there is often no subtlety in what they’re delivering. ‘Don’t You Know I’m In A Band’ shows this as the entire punchline is in the title. It also makes for a potential alienation of listeners where their intent may be lost somewhere in the joke. Is it really satire if someone in a band is telling you they are in a band? Is the extensive Janet Planet monologue of ‘C.O.O.L Party’ a sarcastic take on fame or is it what happens in day-to-day Confidence Man life? But, on further listening, the many facets and elements of the band are revealed on their own terms, just like they’ve always done.
With high expectations placed on them, Confidence Man turned it out and made an album of bangers, flirting with the hedonistic lifestyle of pop artists and with it, they’ll probably become even more successful. Confident Music for Confident People might take a couple of listens to really get into it, but to write them off as a gimmick is to write off where pop is going in 2018. Admittedly, it shouldn’t be too much to ask for substance considering a lot of the lyrics do indeed blur the lines of sarcasm and irony, but for a band that has no interest in being a #serious act, they emerge triumphant with a record that brings their first sounds together with what they hopefully work towards more in the future with songs like ‘Out The Window’. Some singles might make it a bit unclear who is really laughing at the end for fans, whether its the crowds who will shout “yeeew” to the drug references or Confidence Man on their way to the bank after singing ‘Don’t You Know I’m In A Band’ without a real trace of irony at their 23rd festival that year, but there is enough else in this record to reveal a whole lot more to this band. They just want to have a good time and they want to take us all along for the ride. With Confidence Man now about to embark on an enormous, global tour, we’ve got our hopes high that this evolution of sound continues along with the party.
Confident Music for Confident People is out now.
CONFIDENT MUSIC FOR CONFIDENT PEOPLE AUSTRALIAN TOUR DATES
Special Guest “The Lex Deluxe Dance Hall featuring the Mystery Twins”
FRI 4 MAY – THE TRIFFID, BRISBANE
FRI 11 MAY – THE CAPITOL, PERTH
FRI 18 MAY – METRO THEATRE, SYDNEY [LIC/ALL AGES
SUN 20 MAY – 170 RUSSELL, MELBOURNE
AUSTRALIAN FESTIVAL DATES
SAT 10 MAR – THE DOCK, FREMANTLE, WA
SAT 7 APR – BLEACH* FESTIVAL – GOLD COAST, QLD
FRI 27 APR – GROOVIN THE MOO – WAYVILLE, SA
SAT 28 APR – GROOVIN THE MOO – MAITLAND, NSW
SUN 29 APR – GROOVIN THE MOO – CANBERRA ACT
SAT 5 MAY – GROOVIN THE MOO – BENDIGO, VIC
SUN 6 MAY – GROOVIN THE MOO – TOWNSVILLE, QLD
SAT 12 MAY – GROOVIN THE MOO – BUNBURY, WA
SAT 19 MAY – BASSINTHEGRASS – DARWIN, NT
FRI 25 MAY – ALL POINTS EAST FESTIVAL – LONDON, UK
FRI 1 JUN – PRIMAVERA SOUND – BARCELONA, SPAIN
SUN 3 JUN – GOVERNORS BALL – NEW YORK, USA
WED 6 JUN – ELSEWHERE, BROOKLYN, NY, USA
SUN 10 JUN – PARKLIFE – MANCHESTER, UK
WED 13 JUN – LA MAROQUINERIE – PARIS, FRANCE
THU 14 JUN – L’UBU, RENNES, FRANCE
FRI 15 JUN – FESTIVAL VIE SAUVAGE, BOURG, FRANCE
FRI 29 JUN – GAROROCK FESTIVAL – MARMANDE, FRANCE
SUN 1 JUL – TRNSMT – GLASGOW, UK
FRI 6 JUL – POHODA FESTIVAL – TRENCIN, SLOVAKIA
FRI 13 JUL – LATITUDE FESTIVAL – SUFFOLK, UK
SAT 14 JUL – GURTENFESTIVAL – BERN, SWITZERLAND
SUN 15 JUN – VIE SAUVAGE – BOURG, FRANCE
FRI 20 JUL – DAS FEST – KARLSRUHE, GERMANY
SAT 21 JUL – SLOTTSFJELL FESTIVAL – TONSBERG, NORWAY
FRI 27 JUL – FESTIVAL LES ESCALES, SAINT-NAZAIRE, FRANCE
SAT 28 JUL – PORT ELIOT FESTIVAL – CORNWALL, UK
SUN 29 JUL – STANDON CALLING – STANDON HERTFORDSHIRE, UK
FRI 3 AUG – WILDERNESS FESTIVAL – OXFORDSHIRE, UK
SAT 4 AUG – BESTIVAL – WAREHAM, UK
SUN 5 AUG – THE BEATYARD FESTIVAL – DUBLIN, IRELAND
THU 9 AUG – PLAGE DE ROCK FESTIVAL, ST.-TROPEZ, FRANCE
SUN 12 AUG – BOARDMASTERS FESTIVAL – CORNWALL, UK
THU 16 AUG – FESTIVAL PAREDES DE COURA – PAREDES DE COURA, PORTUGAL
SAT 18 AUG – PUKKELPOP – KIEWIT, BELGIUM
SUN AUG 19 – LOWLANDS FESTIVAL, BIDDINGHUIZEN, NETHERLANDS