Review by Dakota Nelson
Recommended Tracks: Tracks 1- “Anxiety,” Track 5- “Degraded,” Track 7- “Forbidden”
RIYL: Protomartyr, Eagulls, Parquet Courts
Formerly known as Viet Cong, Canadian post-punk band Preoccupations release an album that is both haunting and melodic. Living to their name Preoccupations is full of singer Matt Flegel telling about his life, and the ways he’s caught up in it.
Starting with a less subtle approach, the first track “Anxiety” is all about his anxiety. Anyone with anxiety will immediately understand what Flegel is singing about; with lines like “I’m not here solely for the sake/ Of breathing, I am wide awake/ Excuse my efforts for today.” This plays with the ideas that social disconnect, or at least mental disorder, is not taken seriously enough. All the while, Flegel mutters his lines against a “wall of sound” from bass and drums.
This theme of despair is constant throughout the rest of the album. On tracks like “Memory,” Flegel remembers someone that was very important to him, ranting about all the things they never got to do together and all the hard times he wished they never had to go through. While initialing a more uplifting part of the album being eleven and a half minutes, for a post-punk band, the song transforms into melancholy and regret by implementing wooden-stringed instruments, creating an almost post-rock sound. Then, it proceeds to go full post-rock for the last four minutes by playing the same note over and over.
The instrumentation on this album compliments the lyrics perfectly. Such as on the track “Degraded” where the first minute is nothing but blended synthesizers that lead into a fast drum beat with Flegel breaking out singing lines like “We are consistent in our flaws” and “I can’t change.” Sometimes life is too fast for us to adapt, and we’re left falling back into old habits. This is reflected by the upbeat music throughout the track, contrasting with the rest of the album.
For having to change their name and re-brand themselves, Preoccupations could’ve had this as their debut album. While their influences are still very detectible, it’s a giant leap from their first album. They could easily hone their sound and come out with an album all their own. A lot of Canadian music doesn’t really cross into the United States unless it’s mainstream, so give a listen to our brothers from the Great White North.