Preoccupations – Preoccupations

Album Review by Alex Smail | 07 Sep 2016
Album title: Preoccupations
Artist: Preoccupations
Label: Jagjaguwar
Release date: Sep 16

Given the circumstances surrounding its inception, it’s no wonder that Preoccupations seems so humourless at times. When Viet Cong succumbed to a seemingly unending backlash and settled to change their name, you would think that alone would be enough to put a damper on recording the follow-up. Instead, the darkness that seeps through Preoccupations' self-titled offering comes from a more personal place. Written amidst breakups and instability, the album is more introspective than its predecessor – and a hell of a lot more visceral.

Suffocating opener Anxiety finds the Canadian four-piece wading through this uncertainty, into the unknown. Frontman Matt Flegel describes the song as indicative of Preoccupations “changing as a band”, and he’s not wrong. Where Flegel’s vocals on much of their last record were buried beneath layers of jangly guitar lines and drum patterns, he’s front-and-centre here, evoking dread and angst as he growls about nightmares and empty vacuums over a raspy drone. And that’s where the album’s greatest strength lies. It doesn’t present cookie-cutter visions of fear and insecurity to observe from afar; it crawls under your skin and drags them out to you – whether you want it to or not.

Listen to: Anxiety, Stimulation