Preoccupations - New Material
Preoccupations (formerly another name that shall not be named) are back with their third full length record aptly named: New Material. Since changing their name the post-punk band have left the controversy behind and begun making pretty stellar music. The album begins with the neon soaked "Espionage" which sounds like an electropop song gone perfectly array. There is this sense of aggression to this track, but the music has almost Flock of Seagulls level 80s inspiration. You just don't expect something that has those elements to work, but Preoccupations make it happen. The same can be said for much of the record, it's a post-punk take on new wave that simply cooks. "Decompose" has this line of music in it where the twinkling synths elevate what would have otherwise been a pretty pedestrian guitar tracks. Throughout the record there are magical elements that slip and pop through. There was a segment of 80s music, now lost, that didn't just conform that whatever was on MTV or the radio and this feels so much like an updated version of that. The drums are recorded so fantastically here giving them this punch and well rounded tone that add another excising dimension to the record. With all these amazing sounds going on the one thing that gets a bit lost is the vocal. It often feels distant and like an after thought sinking into the background. When the vocal does stand out like it does on "Antidote" it feels super derivative, almost like He is putting on an Bowie-lite inflection that sucks you right out of the track. If you can get past the vocal though you'll find the lyrics on this album have grown up and become more in-depth, trying to square the personal self with the self we show to the world.
This album is fully about the individual, but in covering those topics it feels so much more connected to the larger world. With that however comes a loss of faith, and in their won lyrics they talk about how everything that we've been told is a lie. The pacing is really well done here shifting from frantic to slow and drawn out with expect ability. The synths tie the whole thing together but each track has it's own unique style. There is this over arching industrial sound that permeates the whole record, giving it an aggression and power that you never really equate with synthy music. The final track "Compliance" has no lyrics but pushes all the themes you've heard throughout the record straight to the front and closes them out with this massive wall of sound that just consumes everything around it. Their music gets so intense and so powerful on this record that the band almost starts to shrink in on itself, looking deep and deeper within as the music gets bolder and bolder. New Material is another fantastic record from Preoccupations who are establishing themselves as one of the best post-punk bands out there. Leaving their ill advised name in the dust appears to have been the right move.
8.3 out of 10