Preoccupations: New Material Album Review

Story posted March 26, 2018 in Arts & Entertainment, CommRadio by Scott Perdue

Post-punk band Preoccupations is back with their third studio album, New Material. This eight-track album delves once again into the band’s recurring themes of industry, social media and isolation. New Material showcases the band’s 1980s post-punk style in a more cryptic fashion than ever before as Preoccupations continues to push themselves towards the forefront of the indie rock scene.

Previously known as Viet Cong, Preoccupations have since rebranded themselves to move past their politically incorrect and incentive name. Although backlash still lingers, New Material supports the band’s effort to reinvent and progress, allowing the band to reevaluate and start again. The band has stated, "We are a band who wants to make music and play our music for our fans. We are not here to cause pain or remind people of atrocities of the past.”

Incorporating new wave, synth and punk styles from the 1980s, Preoccupations have begun to take on influences from bands such as The Psychedelic Furs and Tears for Fears. Preoccupations embraces the rhythm-heavy aspects of such groups while still adding to and reinventing their melodic approach. Their focus on industrial themes keeps their sound fresh and interesting in an innovative way.

Overall the album is very cohesive and is effective at chipping away at society’s social structure through songs such as “Espionage” and “Manipulation.” Unfortunately, some songs get lost among other tracks that push the band’s messages in a stronger fashion. With this being said, there really isn’t a low point on the album, although some sections in the tracklisting do linger just a little too long. For instance, the song “Antidote” has a latter half that really drags for longer than it should. While this repetitive tone is without question a specific thematic choice, it pulls the listener out of the music instead of reinforcing their listening experience. It’s also odd for such issues to arise given that the band’s usual bread and butter has been longer, more hypnotic songs. Too often does it feel as though Preoccupations didn’t write a definitive ending or crescendo into the more spacy parts of this album.

However, this is then redeemed with songs like “Solace” and “Disarray” which bring the band’s sound and themes to a perfect blend. The soundscapes of these songs are captivating and have a consistent alluring rhythm which keeps the listener within its melodies. The final track on the album, “Compliance” is an instrumental track that connects once again to the band’s overarching theme of industrialization. With this haunting and echoing finish, Preoccupations send off this album with a great final remark speaking to the isolation often felt in modern society.

While the band does deserve praise for being able to create such a stellar album experience, this album just barely falls short of being a well-crafted statement of the band’s many messages on modern society. Too many of the tracks blend together or run too long to be considered effective or significant. New Material proves however that they still have unique instrumental directions to take their music, and that even if not perfectly executed here, can with time and effort be reworked hopefully on future projects.

Rating: 7/10

 

Scott Perdue is a freshman majoring in film/video. To contact him, email rsp5246@psu.edu.