Quiet Comfidence appears a surprisingly assertive and yet under-stated title for an EP from a relatively unknown Liverpool band, but it says everything about what this release actually is. Name-checking These New Puritans, Talk Talk and James Blake the press info surrounding this release simultaneously tells you everything and nothing about this release.
All of those bands can be heard here. Ninetails pack in the jazz-like experimental musical structures of These New Puritans at their best, the detail and attention of James Blake and the broad vision of Talk Talk but they sound nothing particularly like any of them. Quiet Confidence is a warm wrapper that forms a close and at times unabashedly intimate record. Hopelessly Devoted demonstrates this most directly, borrowing André 3000‘s paranoid yearning "what if she's the ONE?" from Where Are My Panties? / Prototype on The Love Below and applying it to a boundless and exposed two-minutes of experimental modern electronic music and jazz.
Yet for all the wild and ambitious experimentation there are some irresistibly enjoyable hooks scattered across Quiet Confidence. An Aria's brassy guitar lick creates a familiar sounding melody around which everything revolves as if held there loosely by gravity. The melody loops as the instruments intricately and somewhat inexplicably return to the same place at the same time despite so much else going on, the miracle of rendezvous in audio. It is both beautiful and somewhat unbelievable - reminiscent of Dustin Wong's fantastic guitar work, but applied to something grander in scale. O For Two is equally complex and yet also just as engaging, soft vocals beckoning the listener in through the surrounding debris.
Quiet Confidence is exactly the right adjective - this EP feels like a statement and a taunt. If Ninetails can make music this good, what the hell is everyone else playing at?
Quiet Confidence is out now on Pond Life, preview An Aria via Soundcloud below: