Preoccupations - New Material (LP)
Preoccupations’ songs have always worked through themes of creation, destruction, and futility, and they’ve always done it with singular post-punk grit. The textures are evocative. The wire is always a live one. But while that darker side may have been expertly explored, it’s not quite the same as having been fully, intensely lived. This time it was, and the result is ’New Material’, Preoccupations’ deepest and most fully realized record to date. In it lies the difference between witnessing a car crash and crashing your own, between jumping into an ocean and starting to swallow the water.
Opener “Espionage” lives up to multi-instrumentalist Scott Munro’s stated goal of making a record where “nobody knows what instrument is playing EVER”, kicking off with a clattering, rhythmic echo that gives way to sprinting percussion and a melody straight from Joy Division’s best playbook.” “Manipulation” explores the futility of going through the motions, balancing a droney, minimal march with a thunder roll that brings it to the brink and “Disarray” bursts up like a blackened confetti cannon, the song’s bright melody dancing over a refrain of “disarray, disarray, disarray”.
‘New Material’ does offer some relief. “This is somehow the most uptempo thing we’ve ever done,” singer/bassit Matt Flegel. In this lies the crucial point of tension, as it’s that propulsive, itchy quality that rescued ‘New Material’ from the proverbial bottom of the pit.
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