Connan Mockasin has become somewhat of a cult classic with his strong pop, driven by comedic writing and quirky use of effects. Jassbusters however sees New Zealand’s Mockasin flipping the script for a smooth (read Jazz-busters perhaps) and downbeat pop album. The album’s infectious pop cores are a strong base, and by the end it feels like knowledge of his older work may actually distract you too much from enjoying this record for what it is.
Most notably as the record sets out slowly, Mockasin’s penchant for amazing grooves is at the forefront this time around. Where Connan usually favoured weirdness and goofy writing, he’s now pushing the great pop cores out more, while keeping the humour and strange ideas as a subtle detail. “Charlotte’s Thong” itself sheds all the usual vocal effects for a stripped-down delivery between hazy lo-fi and suave riffs. Though this track itself really demands loving its core rhyhtms to endure its 9-minute run-time beyond some solos, there’s something intriguing to seeing Mockasin take himself a little more seriously. With soft, accompanying vocals, “Momo’s” tells contrasting story about love that feels as romantic as it does devastated. With a new sense of vocal playing in his work, Mockasin’s music really does sound different as the album moves along, and it all falls more into the style of his acoustic renditions.
“Last Night” is where all the quirky tones and familiar Mockasin characteristics shine through, beginning with the squeaky-door skits and a meta-reflection on his own music. With this in mind though, the hooks are instantly infectious and his unusual vocal delivery lends new life to this kind of writing. However outlandish as his methods seem, it is really hard to forget all the vocal inflections and it tends to feel more honest than most modern love songs. In its bass-heavy interlude, it almost sounds like “You Can Do Anything” is in fact an interpolation of “I’m The Man Who Will Find You” placed in a comically sleazy new light to push Mockasin’s style of comedy.
The self-reflection surpasses the cute nicknames on “Con Conn Was Impatient” as we see a sense of sadness that’s rarely so strong in his writing. While it does meditate like a lot of other tracks on the album, there’s something overpowering to its great synth drops that give the song new life. “B’nD” however cuts through with one of the more exciting grooves from throughout the album, as it sets up its little story moment. The conversations are fun and overtly serious, though it may not feel quite as standout on later listens.
Regardless of its somewhat cheeky title, “Sexy Man” has a warm and soothing quality, as Mockasin emulates romance deeply, and would likely entrance those unfamiliar with his other work in an instant. Even as it becomes redundant, there’s enough magical moments and new melodies hidden along the way to make this one of the album’s finer moments. The guitars have an instantly pointed draw on “Les Be Honest” which serves to cut through how funny the title is. Whether you’re singing along to the harmonies or overt falsetto hooks, Mockasin presents a strange inversion of his usual comedic pop through something that sounds so infectious but lightly off that you can never tell if he’s serious, but you’ll be too hypnotized to really care.
Words by Owen Maxwell