Emotional nostalgia with 80s echoes.
Released: 16th September 2016
If you knew this band a year ago you’d probably be aware of two things – how killer their debut album was and the controversial reception of their previous band, Viet Cong. The inevitable eventually happened, the name change even announced before the new name, but now they’re rebranded, with a generally more mature approach to their sound on another self-titled LP.
Lulled into a false sense of security with an initial minute of gleaming drone, Preoccupations’ ‘Anxiety’ is a crunch impact where vocalist Matt Flegel hits his lowest register yet. Previous bowie-esque tones are now set to a creeping resonant bass voice, and his vocal versatility extends further on ‘Monotony’, gliding softly over jangly Marr-style guitar riffs and motorik beats. But it’s track three, ‘Zodiac’, when Preoccupations first really grab you. It’s at this point we’re greeted with the same kind of hypnotic and addictive riffs heard on the debut, with Flegel going for full rasperous yelps alongside slicer synth noise.
Like the memorable ‘Death’ on Viet Cong, another extended venture sits in the middle of this record with ‘Memory’ moving between three defining progressions: a dreamy but upbeat stroll, through to a heart-warming bass-riff led section decaying to a five minute fog of hazy noise. Later, ‘Stimulation’ releases the most engaging riff of the record and closer ‘Fever’ brings the best vocal hook the band have written to date set to “You’re not scared, you’re not scared. Carry your fever away from here.”
If their last record was a collection of very-well connected bangers, here we’ve got a much more intertwined, fluid composition that flows track-to-track. Where Viet Cong was fierier post-punk catharsis, Preoccupations offers more emotional nostalgia with 80s echoes, and a sometimes creeping mood thrown in means you could knock most of this record behind Stranger Things and it would work brilliantly. Bar an oddly abrupt fade-out ending one track, there’s barely a moment on this thing not worth your time. James Fox