Incredible Self Confidence are two musicians – Ben Bennett and Elizabeth Clough – who together sound like a mini-psychedelic revival. Their EP – released by Mouth of Gold Records, an East Ham-based cooperative – has an entertainingly photoshopped cover that suggests mid-90s Julian Cope has returned to Earth. It consists of four gorgeous, intense songs that pull together elements of ‘60s trip-laden English psychedelia and its janglier ‘90s echoes to create a distinctive sound that is both delightful and dark.
The EP is infused with the high summer head rush of doomed ‘60s singles like ‘Michael Angelo’ by 23rd Turnoff. There are also strong hints of Michael Head and Shack, whose 1990s albums filtered The Byrds through a layer of detachment fed with hard drugs. Incredible Self Confidence make extremely confident use of their inspirations with songs that are bright, cheery, and underpinned with a brittle, sometimes frantic, despair. The disorientation at the heart of the psychedelic experience is a central feature of everyday life, rather than an escape from its rigidity.
Clough delivers clouds of multi-tracked backing vocals, strings and synths, while Bennett’s lead vocals are high and confident. On ‘Solar Sails’ he takes it up a notch, and reveals intriguing depths to his voice. His guitar lines are head-turningly mournful and lyrics are both despairing and, often, very funny. ‘Ding Dong’, for example, contains the immortal line, “Tossed off in the car park that’s in your mind.” ‘Solar Sails’, perhaps the stand-out track, heads into surreal and sinister territory, with its repeated refrain “Bitumen is your friend”. Irresistible melodies course through a song that is also strangely threatening, and which ends with the alarming declaration “See me swing from the Cenotaph.” It is a delightfully unsettling track, the highlight of an excellent EP. If they can produce songs as accomplished as these, Incredible Self Confidence surely have a great deal more to offer than the irony of their band name implies.