With Confidence have found the perfect way to open their new album Love and Loathing: A simple clearing of the throat. It’s the perfect metaphor for the contradiction of their sound, a laid-back abruptness that gains attention quickly and gives little reason to move on. “That Something” is classic of the band in the janky pop-punk riff, as well as the clean vocal work from Jayden Seeley. With verses laden in hooks, it’s clear why the band opted to make it the lead single for Love and Loathing.
Despite sporting radio friendly song lengths, the longest being the albums closer “Tails” at 04:09; tracks like “Moving Boxes” seem to lack the urgency of the first two tracks without adding much in the way of diversity. This is good news for fans of the bands last record Better Weather, particularly if their willing to embrace the subtle step from a more emo-infused pop-punk to a lighter more-pop injected sound.
Lyrically the record feels optimistically naive in places (the bridge in “The Turnaround” springing to mind as an example) perhaps an enforcement of the bands identity and moniker of confidence, but in other areas Jayden sounds defeatist in his words, reminding listeners that emo is part of the sound and part of the contradiction.
The second single from album “Jaded” returns to the haste behind the opening tracks, suggesting they know where their strengths lie. It’s when With Confidence tread just close enough to the punk of their pop-punk sound that they’re at the best; with the more pop-oriented tracks sounding like your paint by numbers summer guitar-pop song, looking at you “Pâquerette (Without Me)”.
In terms of production, it is a reputable job, blending the candy-flossed-thorns writing of the band with enough ricochet in the guitar work and levelled harmonies to make sense in a listeners ear for when the band have their angst, their rise. It is, however, sickly sweet on some songs causing cringe to clichés left dormant in pop since the 90s.
In the bands closing act, they prove a capability to work with memorable riffs and not just rely on melodic vocal hooks. “Icarus” strikes harder than anything so far on the record both lyrically and sonically sounding almost like a different band, one that’s frankly more interesting.
As a whole Love and Loathing ticks all the boxes you’d expect from a With Confidence record: lightweight riffs with soaring harmonies and enough hooks to open a bait shop, but it fails to really tread into new ground, worse still the band take a tentative step towards the sort of high-stakes edgy pop-punk they could be known for in “Icarus” and leave us wanting more.
Love and Loathing is released August 10th via Hopeless Records