Take half of the rhythm and lead from Women, and add on two very talented musicians, and thus we have Preoccupations. After Women disbanded in 2010, Matt Flegel (bass/vocals) and Mike Wallace (drums) teamed up with Scotty Munro (guitar/synth) and Daniel Christiansen (guitar) in 2012 to release a very promising EP, Cassette, that would write the start of the Canadian post-punk quartet Viet Cong. In 2015 they released their first full-length self-titled release (Viet Cong), and then they decided to change their name to Preoccupations, which led to their second self-titled release, Preoccupations.
In Preoccupations, the band displays the art that is embedded in post-punk music that allows for elements spanning various genres. When considering their discography, one can hear the progression that their mastered genre has given way to since its birth in the 1970’s. In Preoccupations’ case, Viet Cong went deeper than Cassette, and Preoccupations went darker. The new album’s mix sounds more pronounced, right in your living room, whereas the other two releases seemed to be more distant, sort of like they recorded in the back corner of a large cafeteria in an abandoned insane asylum.
Right from the start, the album establishes an empathetic connection with its properly titled track, “Anxiety.” Its opening lines are, “With a sense of urgency and unease – Second-guessing just about everything. Recollections of a nightmare – So cryptic and incomprehensible.” The lyrics are an accurate description of the mental mullings commonly associated with anxiety, and the instrumentation paints a vivid picture of the associated feelings. The tracks all follow suit with their proper titles, personal content, and relatable themes, e.g.: “Monotony,” “Degraded,” “Stimulation.” The noise in “Degraded” really plays up the feeling of running through all the things one must submit to, and the beat in “Stimulation” is obviously stimulating. You can figure the rest out; the titles basically speak for themselves.
The highlight track is “Memory.” Once this song had finished, I knew I loved the album. The textures of the synth and guitars are elating, and its multitude of transitions is all aesthetically pleasing. The song is like getting the right spot during a massage, the rest is great, but it is almost a frustrating build-up, and “Memory” hits the spot. According to the band’s website, the track was recorded in pieces across six studios, not to mention it’s guest vocalist is Dan Boeckner (Wolf Parade, Divine Fits, Operators, etc.) About four minutes into the song there is a transition into a section that sort has the feel of being Buffalo Bill at a high-school dance in the 1980’s. Then the song walks out of the dance steps into a drone-like vacuum, disorienting yet comforting, and slowly phases out until its end at eleven and half minutes.
The album has a blend of synth-pop, psychedelic, industrial, and noise music that the synergy of the four members intelligently allocates to provide a unique feeling. Each song has all of the qualities necessary to give each musical moment a precise progression. A well balanced diet is absorbed during this album with its deep and intense lyrics/vocals combined with its lighter tones coming from the instruments. It left me feeling as if I had just watched 80’s television on an HD screen all day. Overall, the album does justice utilizing what the post-punk scene has provided without sounding generic, something that has seemed to plague modern music.