I have a tendency, a healthy one I feel, to drown myself in a new album when I get hold of it. I like to listen to it over and over, to find something new in each song and it let it do its thing. That also explains why you may find me skipping down the road to meet you (Teen Men-Teen Men), skimming stones on the water (Bruce Springsteen-Nebraska) or in this case showing somewhat of a brooding demeanor. I value that affect though. I think flying through album after album and quickly making a call on it is bullshit, there’s no way you’ve really heard it and taken in its meaning. With Preoccupations, a band that only came my way about 5 months ago, you can’t help but hear it.
Preoccupations are three records in and I think ‘New Material’ is their most complete piece of work yet. Their first two, ‘Viet Cong’ (released as Viet Cong) and ‘Preoccupations’ are great records but they seem to have found a sound with ‘New Material’ that I don’t think they’ll let go of too soon. Their progression is evident in pretty much all songs, Espionage and Disarray being two that have an 80’s post-punk sound that hasn’t sounded so perfect since then! I don’t think having your music compared to a sound from the 80’s is a bad thing either, especially when it was so brilliant and raw back then. A lot of this record also feels borderline dance, like everyone could be slowly moving on a dance floor like zombies. Decompose, a complete synth track, is brilliantly put together with a racy, pulsing beat carrying the otherwise downtrodden lyrics. Manipulation and Antidote are two more brilliant tracks. Within the post-punk, synth heavy sound ‘New Material’ delivers, they still manage to vary the whole record. There’s so many instruments and mixes going on that it’s actually hard to tell sometimes what you’re listening to!
Solace is a fast paced track that works well after Antidote. It’s about the inevitability of death and finding someone you can enjoy it with. It’s got purpose, despite being a little twisted at the same time. Doubt has been described as a “goth jammer” by the band and it only takes you 5 seconds to hear why. The lyrics are repetitive and the sound never really goes anywhere but we’re not listening to The Monkeys here are we? This for me comes at a time where the two previous albums faltered. There’s no let up in the idea and purpose of the record, which is refreshing! The closer, Compliance, is completely instrumental. It’s a slow, grinding track almost sounds industrial. There’s a bit of a haunting sound to it too which adds to the overall record. It’s like the guys made this without vocals to further increase their already dark image. Fantastic track.
With ‘New Material‘ I think Preoccupations have created a record that will stand to them in years to come. Each of their records have been brilliant but this is a step up, one that will also set the bar for the next one.
Photo Credit: Pitchfork