With Confidence – ‘Love And Loathing’

By Gem Rogers

Pop punk is a difficult genre to get noticed in. While there are legions of fans around the world, it also seems like every town has their own local pop punk band – it takes something special (and a decent dose of luck) to make your name and carve out a lasting career. With Confidence are one of the fortunate few who’ve begun to make a real impact over the last few years, touring with the likes of State Champs and As It Is before landing a slot on this year’s final-ever Warped Tour.

With second album ‘Love and Loathing’, the Australian three piece are attempting to live up to an impressive debut that was summery, poppy, and bursting with mammoth-sized choruses. It’s a pivotal moment; prove themselves, and With Confidence can easily rise to the same status as bands they once opened for. A wrong step, though, could see them suffer the same fate as many of their genre predecessors – beloved, but forgotten.

Definitely starting on the right foot with first single ‘That Something’, we’re then lead into the fairly shrug-worthy, generic pop tune ‘Sing To Me’ – it’s not bad, by any means, but a somewhat lacklustre delivery combined with plain lyrics make this disappointingly forgettable. The only moment of note comes when front man Jayden Seeley breaks out his powerful, partially screamed vocals over a thudding drum beat.

Any concerns that the band might not have another full album in them, though, are immediately blown away by ‘Moving Boxes’ – leaping forward from a mellow start into an uplifting, slick song where instruments and vocals dance around each other with perfect timing. Craving a big chorus? Here’s one in beautiful, shining glory. It feeds into the unapologetically summery ‘The Turnaround’, and if you can keep your hand from repeatedly reaching for the Volume Up button, you’re a stronger person than we are.

Where debut ‘Better Weather’ was brimming with youthful exuberance and optimism, its follow up saunters in as the wiser older brother; still clearly recognisable as With Confidence, yet with an experienced edge (if also a little laced with a more mainstream pop sound). It’s reflected not only in the themes of the songs – daydreamy lyrics are replaced with more fire and a dash of frustration – but also the much more consistent pace over the full length of the album.

Surprisingly, there are only two real ‘ballads’ included; ‘Bruise’, a delicate track that’s sure to be heard in hundreds of YouTube covers in the near future, and the country-esque ‘Pâquerette (Without Me)’. Neither stand out hugely on first listen, but grow with each replay until they flourish next to the more upbeat tracks they are nestled between.

Hiding towards the end of the album is a particular highlight in ‘Icarus’, a song that kicks off with a fun riff and an inescapable similarity to Paramore’s ‘Ain’t It Fun’. That similarity can be forgotten entirely by the time the chorus crashes in, though – “please remember me / I was seventeen / break your neck, break your neck”. The vocals are raw and passionate, and it’s moments like this that really set them apart from other pop punk bands.

Despite one or two forgettable moments, ‘Love and Loathing’ manages to balance maintaining the popular sound of their debut, whilst still growing into something new and more polished; it seems unlikely that fading into obscurity is on the cards with a release of this calibre. The sincerity of With Confidence’s lyrics and music, in a genre where the same themes are often churned out time after time in much the same format, is addictively refreshing – this might not be a revolutionary sound, but what it definitely is is music that will make you smile. In between singing along as loud as you can, of course.

GEM ROGERS

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