Preoccupations
New Material


2.9
good

Review

by Aaron W. STAFF
March 23rd, 2018 | 184 replies


Release Date: 2018 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A deep breath of submission has begun.

The post-punk revival (as we know it) has been raging on for well over a decade now. For better or even worse, the revival has seen an increased flow in legacy imitators and "back to basics" aesthetics coming forward, although this is not the best direction for the genre to go in; but where exactly does Preoccupations stand in the midst of the great, big revival and the ever-so-trendy New Order-aping that many groups undertake" With their first record under Viet Cong, the band took after the more primal and abrasive textures of groups such as This Heat and Bauhaus; whereas with Preoccupations, they undertook a stylistic transformation and became (roughly) the bastard son of The Cure and New Order fused into one. New Material does little to change the idea that Preoccupations has not a single original idea left in their bag of tricks, but instead continues on from where Viet Cong left off with the synthetic sheen of Preoccupations to boost the once-paper thin synth-driven coldwave into more bruising, gloomy affairs.

As per usual, the defeatist way of thinking is Preoccupations' way of thinking, always taking on the role of the all-fearing and deeply cynical and emerging from the experience further embittered and resigned to the weary ways of life itself. On a record that is a so-called "ode to depression and self-sabotage," New Material weaves a web of deceit, self-hatred, and finds several ways to project its cold, pessimistic ways onto you. There are moments where this mechanical nightmare the band paints is convincing, but often we are presented with lyrics that are borderline cliché ("It's easy to see why everything you’ve ever been told is a lie") or laughable ("Information overdose, looking for antidotes"). Preoccupations clearly tries their best at creating their own version of a Orwellian dystopia where information is heavily controlled, humanity is reduced to nothing, and little hope remains. But when getting down to the bare essentials of what makes Preoccupations, and by extension, New Material tick, it becomes more apparent that they are running low on original ideas – we've already heard songs like "Antidote" and "Disarray" before, albeit in various other forms; we've heard a dozen other songs where the band expresses a highly cynical and negative point of view; and we've certainly heard these songs from other bands (that may or may not have had influenced Preoccupations).

Weirdly enough, New Material is not a departure from their brand of gloom-and-doom jams, but is instead both a step forward (in accessibility) and backwards (in uniqueness). The third time around, as relatively middle-of-the-road as it is, is where they've come closest to perfecting their formula; for the mediocrities it contains ("Disarray," "Antidote," "Doubt"), it also features some of the finest works since their anxious debut with "Manipulation" and "Decompose." On past records, Preoccupations often played the part of the antagonistic prophet, warning of a world gone to hell all the while kicking and screaming; New Material pictures the prophet resigned to the united fate of the world, one destined for ruin. Sometimes, the protests we're presented with are aggressive and full of vigor ("Espionage") or are filled to the brim with agonizing torment ("Manipulation"). We are asked to forget our narrator, to hate them, and to oblige their desire to no longer exist.

New Material is an album that achieves a lot, but accepts failure as an option and takes it with a begrudging grace. So much can be made out of the stories told in the album's songs, but with the general lack of ideas, the role of the doomsayer is running its course for Preoccupations. One can beg the question of whether or not they'll ever return to the paranoid chaos of Viet Cong, but it's a safe bet that it isn't likely; however, it's more likely they'll be back with another record of songs eerily similar to the ones you've heard already.




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user ratings (115)
Chart.
3.1
good
other reviews of this album
Winesburgohio CONTRIBUTOR (3.5)
*extremely shrug emoji*...



Comments:Add a Comment 
Frippertronics
Staff Reviewer
March 23rd 2018


18019 Comments

Album Rating: 2.9 | Sound Off

Somewhere, Uni gets mad...



Manipulation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OsfjwP3cJB8

Digging: Ichiko Aoba - QP

Dewinged
March 23rd 2018


12205 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Incoming Unistorm.



Gotta jam. Great write up Fripperman.

Digging: Azusa - Heavy Yoke

Frippertronics
Staff Reviewer
March 23rd 2018


18019 Comments

Album Rating: 2.9 | Sound Off

yeah, it seems like I'm prone to raining on his parade lately



first the Suuns, now this

Papa Universe
March 23rd 2018


18102 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5 | Sound Off

It will take a lot to make me forgive your treachery, Fripp.



It will take even more to make me forgive theirs.

Digging: Selvans - Faunalia

Dewinged
March 23rd 2018


12205 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

whoa Preoccupations exposed.



I am preoccupied now.

Frippertronics
Staff Reviewer
March 23rd 2018


18019 Comments

Album Rating: 2.9 | Sound Off

Uni, do you feel like a fool for 5ing their last one (aka their worst one)

Dewinged
March 23rd 2018


12205 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Incorrect, you rated (and reviewed) that one with a shiny 3.5 Frip.

Papa Universe
March 23rd 2018


18102 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5 | Sound Off

I do not feel like a fool for 5ing that one, but I do feel like a fool for hoping this might be as good.

Frippertronics
Staff Reviewer
March 23rd 2018


18019 Comments

Album Rating: 2.9 | Sound Off

"Incorrect, you rated (and reviewed) that one with a shiny 3.5 Frip."



Two years and .9 lower later....

parksungjoon
March 23rd 2018


8320 Comments


Yo I didn't even realise fripp became staff

parksungjoon
March 23rd 2018


8320 Comments


Oh this is that band that used to be called viet cong but changed it right? And we had like a million pages on sput complaining about it for some reason

Papa Universe
March 23rd 2018


18102 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5 | Sound Off

The good old days, aye?

parksungjoon
March 23rd 2018


8320 Comments


I mean I never listened to them so idk

alienobserver
March 23rd 2018


4495 Comments


probably gonna be a solid 3 for this one, singles were catchy and vaguely interesting but they did somewhat wear off me

neekafat
March 23rd 2018


13008 Comments


Goddammit I'm gonna have to check this thanks to Uni's lame post-punk rec

butcherboy
Contributing Reviewer
March 23rd 2018


8876 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

shame this is such a dud by these guys' standards..

Digging: The Vanity Set - The Vanity Set

Papa Universe
March 23rd 2018


18102 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5 | Sound Off

all eyes on Iceage and Parquet Courts now

butcherboy
Contributing Reviewer
March 23rd 2018


8876 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

you know parquet courts will be a 3, a 3.5 at best.. band have been writing the same song with varying degrees of chorus quality.. iceage is a 4 for me for now, but may well grow..

Papa Universe
March 23rd 2018


18102 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5 | Sound Off

looks like a dismal year. unless y'all are ready to admit you were wrong about Room Inside the World

butcherboy
Contributing Reviewer
March 23rd 2018


8876 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

I don't know what sidewalk you tripped over to get enough post traumatic stress to think that drippy snooze-fest is a classic..



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