“When I moved to New York, a lot of people were making really interesting electronic music and manipulating sounds, and I was really kind of bummed—there were no songs. And I really wanted to hear songs,” says Josh Da Costa of CMON. With former Regal Degal band mate Jamen Whitelock, the two formed CMON, swapping the band and the New York’s DIY scene they were getting disillusioned with (. “We were definitely getting swept further from where we wanted to be and the excitement we wanted to portray,” says Whitelock) to the forefront of Los Angeles’ party scene – if not in reality then certainly in the vibe they’ve cultivated in the bands new long player ‘Confusing Mix of Nations’.
After the two separately made their way to Los Angeles – Da Costa first, while Whitelock followed to join him in the project, songs were written and recorded in a handful of small private studios in Los Angeles (“no pro zones”) and produced entirely by da Costa. In the meantime they both learned how to manipulate their synths and keyboard rigs on the fly. The name, and indeed Confusing Mix of Nations, was taken from a section divider in a record storage space where former Regal Degal bandmate Josiah Wolfson once worked. “There was a section of world music called “Confusing Mix of Nations,” da Costa says. “Taken literally it sums us up perfectly. I was born in NYC and partially raised in Brussels by parents who are from the Carribean, while most of my family lives in Amsterdam, and Jamen is half-Taiwanese from Miami.”
Musically the album takes some of what made Regal Degal great – atmosphere and melancholy soul, and kicked it through a couple of Tears for Fears records, added a little New Order, and spruced it up with the help of synths and smart songwriting into something that has the charm and the catchiness of people from this side of the pond such as the The Orielles with their charming indie funk.
The start of the album sums them up. Opener ’Coo’ displays all those influences, as well as the boys ability to pick out tunes that immediately resonate, as it parades along sounding occasionally like The Charlatans (no bad thing) before veering off into this lovely, foggy psych-pop. Follow on Good to Know sails closer to Pet Shop Boys water, navigating through without ever sounding like pastiche, while Dreamfucking is definitely dancefloor material, with its retro beats and Miami Sound Machine stylings.
Elsewhere on the album there are moments to savour at almost every turn, particularly the lovely melancholy of Zoo and the strutting Peter Pan. It’s not which songs to enjoy, because that isn’t in question – it’s just which version of CMON you like best – the club ready / Gary Numan mash up that is Base, or the indie rock and roll of album closer Letdown.
This isn’t a record thats a Confusing Mix of Nations though. Instead its a sweet shop of styles, and all of them are sweet and to be savoured. Dig in.