PopMatters is moving to WordPress. We will publish a few essays daily while we develop the new site. We hope the beta will be up sometime late next week.
Music

Electropop's CMON Feel the Noise on 'Confusing Mix of Nations'

Photo: Kathryn Vetter Miller / Courtesy of Mexican Summer

Pop duo CMON mix and match contemporary and retro influences to craft the dark dance-pop on Confusing Mix of Nations.

Confusing Mix of Nations
CMON

Mexican Summer

3 April 2020

Confusing Mix of Nations, the new album by CMON, could be the bold, dayglo, synthpop party we all need right now. The album is poppy and danceable, mixing and matching decades worth of influences within it, though a heart of darkness beats steadily within the album's lyrics. While Confusing Mix of Nations is a debut album, the members of CMON – Josh da Costa and Jamen Whitelock – are hardly musical newcomers. Regal Degal, the Brooklyn-based band da Costa and Whitelock formed with bassist Josiah Wolfson way back in 2009, specialized in a dark post-punk sound. Regal Degal was a compelling rock band with some dance influences around the edges.

CMON is more of a pop operation, though the songs on Confusing Mix of Nations represent a natural extension of the more accessible sounds Regal Degal had begun to explore on its 2015 album, Not Now. CMON reflects the current pop and dance music trends that da Costa and Whitelock have soaked up during the past decade in Miami, Los Angeles, and New York City, so modern dance-pop lovers ought to enjoy Confusing Mix of Nations. At the same time, fans of earlier iterations of electronic dance-pop going back to the early 1980s are likely to enjoy the album as well. CMON wrap their influences into a distinctive overall sound that feels simultaneously contemporary and retro.

CMON opens the album with "Coo", a slinky invitation for listeners to hit the dance floor, even if only the dance floor within one's mind. That is followed up by "Good to Know", a straight-up pop tune with a distinct Pet Shop Boys feel, both musically and lyrically. "I thought I'd take you to a late, late show / After hours, a silent movie," sings da Costa, before noting, "It's good to know / Your body's got a mind of its own."

While the songs on Confusing Mix of Nations seem designed for modern dance floor action, an off-kilter melodic sensibility runs through them. Tracks like "Celluloid" and "Mindboggling" are, at heart, nifty pop tunes. In fact, "Mindboggling", a song about a girl who is alluring but distant ("It doesn't make sense / Mindboggling"), would sound as comfortable on the first A Flock of Seagulls album as it does on Confusing Mix of Nations.

CMON brings the album to a close with "Letdown", in which da Costa admits, "I'm tired of being messed up all the time." But even when singing, "Don't wanna be a letdown" and noting that they're "living in the dark of eternal night", CMON can't help but get your head bobbing with hair metal power chords, big drums, and addictive stabs of synths backing up their promise to cut down on the partying and get themselves straightened out. Like much of the album, "Letdown" is modern and retro the same time: it's a 21st-century pop tune that also happens to feel like a great lost Roxette single.

"Living in the dark of eternal night" might feel like an apt description of our current global pandemic situation. Still, existential dancefloor angst can happen anytime, anywhere, and CMON taps into it quite effectively on Confusing Mix of Nations.

8

Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology and hosting provider that we have less than a month, until November 6, to move PopMatters off their service or we will be shut down. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to save the site.


Music

Books

Film

Recent
Music

Laura Veirs Talks to Herself on 'My Echo'

The thematic connections between these 10 Laura Veirs songs and our current situation are somewhat coincidental, or maybe just the result of kismet or karmic or something in the zeitgeist.

Film

15 Classic Horror Films That Just Won't Die

Those lucky enough to be warped by these 15 classic horror films, now available on Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection and Kino Lorber, never got over them.

Music

Sixteen Years Later Wayne Payne Follows Up His Debut

Waylon Payne details a journey from addiction to redemption on Blue Eyes, The Harlot, The Queer, The Pusher & Me, his first album since his 2004 debut.

Music

Every Song on the Phoenix Foundation's 'Friend Ship' Is a Stand-Out

Friend Ship is the Phoenix Foundation's most personal work and also their most engaging since their 2010 classic, Buffalo.

Music

Kevin Morby Gets Back to Basics on 'Sundowner'

On Sundowner, Kevin Morby sings of valleys, broken stars, pale nights, and the midwestern American sun. Most of the time, he's alone with his guitar and a haunting mellotron.

Music

Lydia Loveless Creates Her Most Personal Album with 'Daughter'

Given the turmoil of the era, you might expect Lydia Loveless to lean into the anger, amplifying the electric guitar side of her cowpunk. Instead, she created a personal record with a full range of moods, still full of her typical wit.

Music

Flowers for Hermes: An Interview with Performing Activist André De Shields

From creating the title role in The Wiz to winning an Emmy for Ain't Misbehavin', André De Shields reflects on his roles in more than four decades of iconic musicals, including the GRAMMY and Tony Award-winning Hadestown.

Film

The 13 Greatest Horror Directors of All Time

In honor of Halloween, here are 13 fascinating fright mavens who've made scary movies that much more meaningful.

Music

British Jazz and Soul Artists Interpret the Classics on '​Blue Note Re:imagined'

Blue Note Re:imagined provides an entrance for new audiences to hear what's going on in British jazz today as well as to go back to the past and enjoy old glories.

Film

Bill Murray and Rashida Jones Add Another Shot to 'On the Rocks'

Sofia Coppola's domestic malaise comedy On the Rocks doesn't drown in its sorrows -- it simply pours another round, to which we raise our glass.

Music

​Patrick Cowley Remade Funk and Disco on 'Some Funkettes'

Patrick Cowley's Some Funkettes sports instrumental renditions from between 1975-1977 of songs previously made popular by Donna Summer, Herbie Hancock, the Temptations, and others.

Music

The Top 10 Definitive Breakup Albums

When you feel bombarded with overpriced consumerism disguised as love, here are ten albums that look at love's hangover.

Music

Dustin Laurenzi's Natural Language Digs Deep Into the Jazz Quartet Format with 'A Time and a Place'

Restless tenor saxophonist Dustin Laurenzi runs his four-piece combo through some thrilling jazz excursions on a fascinating new album, A Time and a Place.

Television

How 'Watchmen' and 'The Boys' Deconstruct American Fascism

Superhero media has a history of critiquing the dark side of power, hero worship, and vigilantism, but none have done so as radically as Watchmen and The Boys.

Music

Floodlights' 'From a View' Is Classicist Antipodal Indie Guitar Pop

Aussie indie rockers, Floodlights' debut From a View is a very cleanly, crisply-produced and mixed collection of shambolic, do-it-yourself indie guitar music.

Music

CF Watkins Embraces a Cool, Sophisticated Twang on 'Babygirl'

CF Watkins has pulled off the unique trick of creating an album that is imbued with the warmth of the American South as well as the urban sophistication of New York.

Music

Helena Deland Suggests Imagination Is More Rewarding Than Reality on 'Something New'

Canadian singer-songwriter Helena Deland's first full-length release Someone New reveals her considerable creative talents.

Music

While the Sun Shines: An Interview with Composer Joe Wong

Joe Wong, the composer behind Netflix's Russian Doll and Master of None, articulates personal grief and grappling with artistic fulfillment into a sweeping debut album.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.