Connan Mockasin – Jassbusters

A mess of pretentious waffle.
Label: Mexican Summer
Released: 12th October 2018

Not one for taking the usual path, it has taken Connan Mockasin nearly five years to follow up ‘Caramel’, the psychedelic pop record that really announced the New Zealander to the world. And he has returned with a concept album about a band of music teachers, fronted by an imaginary man called Bostyn that is designed to accompany his five-part melodrama Bostyn ’n’ Dobsyn. Surprisingly, that concept is perhaps the least strange element to the entire thing.

Opener ‘Charlotte’s Thong’ begins with Mockasin’s distinctive guitar sound, like being dipped in treacle, accompanying his usual lo-fi aesthetics. His vocals bounce between falsetto and a low croon, at times making the lyrics almost comically unintelligible – though you would assume they are something to do with a thong, presumably owned by Charlotte. The guitar drifts, snakes and meanders for nigh-on nine interminable minutes. And that’s just the first track. On the following ‘Momo’s’, James Blake brings his ‘it’s 3am on the longest night of your life’ soulful ambience to this song about unrequited love, before Mockasin goes searching in his closet for his inner Prince on ‘Last Night’. It seems like he is looking for hot and heavy, but instead finds clammy and uncomfortable.

The early single ‘Con Conn Was Impatient’ now stands as a neat summation of much of ‘Jassbusters’, in that it goes pretty much nowhere and yet takes too long in getting there. Taken as a whole, it manages to squander much that was great about ‘Caramel’, and drowns it all in a mess of pretentious waffle. Back to school please, Connan.

Jamie MacMillan

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