Confidence Man – ‘TILT’ review: over-the-top pop of the highest order

The Brisbane electro-poppers' second album is more emotionally rounded than its predecessor, but they remain ridiculous in all the right places

Confidence Man’s first record, ‘Confident Music For Confident People’, was a masterclass in hyper-charged, over-the-top pop, fizzing with in-your-face grooves and hilarious lyrics about shit boyfriends, delivered with razor-sharp deadpan by the commanding Janet Planet and her himbo foil Sugar Bones. Live, it was more preposterous still: a chaotic, out of time kaleidoscope of goofy dance moves and LED lights. In other words: a complete blast.

On its follow-up, ‘TILT’, the Brisbane electro-poppers are still anything but subtle. The beats are still blaring, the grooves immediate and direct. Most of the songs are still about partying and fucking. Nevertheless, it’s a decidedly different experience to its predecessor. It’s less silly but more assured, happy to let pumping ’90s-indebted rave instrumentals take centre stage as often as Planet and Bones’ storytelling.

It’s still silly in places, mind. “Living life on the wild side just like a bear / We’re alive – we’re just animals with beautiful hair” Sugar Bones gurns like a third-rate playboy in an unplaceable accent on the deranged ‘What I Like’. Their appropriation of ’90s aesthetics is so full-hearted that they’re unafraid to occasionally drift into full-on Eurodance territory. Yet at other points the group reveal hitherto unheard aspects of their personality. ‘Luvin U Is Easy’ is a tender expression of blossoming love over a smooth Balearic instrumental. The gently psychedelic ‘Holiday’ is bewitching escapism, stripped of irony or overthought.

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Notably, much of the outright ridiculousness is left to Sugar Bones, while Janet Planet has evolved from the insolent and occasionally bratty character presented on ‘Confident Music…’ into a more assertive frontwoman. “This is my house – the house that I built with my own two hands, and if I so desire, I will burn it down,” she monologues on opener ‘Woman’. She’s more manic on the self-explanatory ‘Angry Girl’, though that energy that’s presented as being righteous and valid. As she recently told NME: “The motto of the record is partnering this soft, feminine energy with also this hot, feminine energy.”

Confidence Man have had their fair share of detractors, many of them dismissive of the band’s overt humour as somehow not being ‘real music’, and so it’s hard not to see their significant steps forward here as a direct riposte. Luckily, ‘TILT’ is a record that proves that campness and ridiculousness doesn’t have to come at the expense of real depth.

Release date: April 1

Record label: Heavenly Recordings

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