Saturday, July 30, 2022

CD Odyssey Disc 1575: Confidence Man

Is a hangover worse on a hot day? This morning, I’m going to say yes, but I admit I am not an impartial observer on the matter.

Disc 1575 is…. TILT

Artist: Confidence Man

Year of Release: 2022

What’s up with the Cover?  The band, all looking hip and stylish. The band makes the wise decision to give 80% of the face time to Janet Planet, no doubt on account of her being real good lookin’. No face time goes to DJs Clarence McGuffie and Reggie Goodchild. This is not because they lack in the looks department, it’s just tradition.

How I Came To Know It: I absolutely loved their previous album “Confident Songs for Confident People,” which was one of the best records of 2018. So good that I bought “TILT” having only heard one song.

How It Stacks Up: I have two Confidence Man albums ,and I think you already know which two. “TILT” is a distant second in the stacking game.

Ratings: 2 stars

Confidence Man’s 2018 debut is a whole lot of silly, empty fun, but it is very clever about how silly and empty it is. Unfortunately, “TILT” has all the emptiness, but lacks most of the silly, and all of the clever. This record isn’t terrible, but it is a disappointment given what I know they are capable of.

The basics are there once again, consisting of samples, hand claps, and breaks that combine to make up some catchy electronic dance music. According to the information encoded on the CD (which can be wrong) the particular mix of all this stuff is known as “breakbeat”. I had to read up on that, but it sounds about right.

Janet Planet remains the band’s greatest resource. She can sing, but she is best when she half sings, half jingles her way through a song. Her “coolest girl in the club” delivery reminds me favourably of the Shangri-Las. The other vocalist is Sugar Bones, and while he gets less time centre stage on this record, he has the same kind of party vibe to his singing.

It is Bones who takes the lead on the album’s best song, “What I Like,” although Janet Planet’s well-placed “woo!”s are a big part of the song’s fun. It is a song about dancing but deep down, they all are.

Confidence Man was never about narrative tales, but on their previous record you felt something that mattered was mixed in with the catch phrases, even if that something was playful fun. On “TILT” they go back to a purer dance beat vibe, and while there are some good lines, (my favourite is “Toy Boy’s”With an ass like that/there’s no conversation”) it doesn’t have the same charm overall.  I found myself getting bored halfway though most of the songs. This is my usual reaction to electronica, but I expected more from you, Confidence Man!

The vibe of the record sounds very early oughts club sound, and often had me uncharitably thinking it was made for people who “like anything with a good beat”. I need a bit more chunk to my oatmeal, I’m afraid.

It was a little better on headphones, but most things are. I also played this in a convertible, with the top down and driving in the summer sunshine, which for music like this should be a guarantee of success. Instead I found myself at red lights wanting to shout, “Their other record is really good!” at passersby who cast sidelong glances that suggested they wanted to respond with, “you’re a vacuous douchebag”.

I did quite like “Angry Girl” which was mostly Janet Planet singing “So mad, I’m an angry girl/So what’s your problem?” but had a few other lines actually strung together to at least dig in a bit. The song is not at all angry, it is more a feigned anger for the sake of a little fun and drama at the club. It has all the joy and whimsy of Confidence Man’s earlier work and if there had been more of these, I might be finding a space on my shelves for this record. Instead, I will be bidding this record an early adieu.

Best tracks: What I Like, Toy Boy, Angry Girl

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