When you imagine what an Australian music export looks like, pop music probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. We traditionally over index in other genres, specifically anthemic rock music. But then, it depends who you ask. Some would tell you that the biggest thing to come out this country in the last 12 months was a resurgent Violent Soho, a Queensland band with over ten years in the game now able to sell out festivals as the rest catch up. Others would say it’s Troye Sivan, Perth’s heir-ascendant to the queer pop throne long since abdicated by Savage Garden’s Darren Hayes. But if you look below the headliners, there’s a fantastic ecosystem of artists making delightful, sugary snaps that could give their international competitors a run for their money. From Melbourne, there’s Dorsal Fins, Total Giovanni and Asta, all shimmer and shake. In Sydney, Wallace and BUOY are going for it while Brisbane has their pick of the litter with Confidence Man. It’s been said too many times to count that the Sunshine State is blessed with a network of musicians that not only support one another, but play in each others bands. That’s especially true of Confidence Man, comprised of members of other Brisbane outfits with the sole intention to get you to dance like an idiot in public.
It’s hard to choose between the two singles Confidence Man have released to write about. Both of them are excellent, hitting the dopamine receptors in my brain at just the right frequency to ensure I’m going to enjoy it. There’s bits of Junior Senior in here, a lot of Talking Heads-esque riffs and a definitive lack of taking themselves seriously. (That’s from a performance perspective, because these songs are extremely well put together.) We’ll go with ‘Bubblegum’ because it’s newer and because it’s just so cool, from the deadpan vocals to the Mexicano guitars to those drums that seem like they’ve been lifted from an ’80s breaks record. Though all the instruments seem to be live, there’s a great cut and paste vibe happening here, akin to the smoother parts of Beck’s early work or the kind of fun remixers had with the indie clash era Go! Team or Klaxons. All their members go by pseudonyms, but whoever the singer is has a brilliant attitude that shines through the mix.
And here’s the thing, Australia is really good at this style of irreverent pop music. With their first few singles, Sneaky Sound System made a career out of it. Madison Avenue entered retro history off the back of it and Client Liason are on the way to making it their MO. We’re not above have a guilt-free dance and Confidence Man, likely having grown up pining for that occasional sugar hit, decided to do it for themselves. Stylistically, their instrumentation is fearless, living up to the name of the track. Congas, deep cheesy bass lines, power pop synth effects, pan flutes, plus a call and response chorus that could actually belong to Aqua. This sort of gleeful jam is what will save Australia from itself in 2017.
Play it again, man.