Reviews

Preoccupations
New Material

(Jagjaguwar)

7/10

The last Preoccupations record had them facing up to an identity crisis; they were having to ditch the Viet Cong moniker, the fallout from which had followed them incessantly even as the self-titled debut that they’d released under the name had been meeting with rave reviews. As inelegantly as they dealt with the controversy to begin with, when they finally faced up to the issue and reinvented themselves as Preoccupations, they did so with real nuance; the very musical philosophy of the group, you felt, had been subtly tweaked, just enough to almost trick you into thinking this was, again, a new band. The Viet Cong record had been subject to constant comparison to Women’s ‘Public Strain’, given that Matt Flegel and Michael Wallace were in both groups, and ‘Preoccupations’ began to lean away from ‘Viet Cong’’s walls of shimmering guitar and towards its own, cleaner post-punk sound.

On ‘New Material’, the Canadian band continue down that path apace; the lines on this album are lean to the point of being clinical, and the tempo is relentless, with the prominent rhythm section rattling along with more purpose than on either of this album’s predecessors. So set in stone is the record’s sonic identity – in thrall, clearly, to the likes of Wire and Joy Division – that the most exciting moments creep up on you; the quiet harmonies on ‘Disarray’, for instance, or the fluttering synths that run through ‘Manipulation’. Viet Cong are now firmly in the rear-view mirror, although given how indebted they remain to their influences, Preoccupations don’t quite feel like their own band yet, however well they wear melodic moodiness.

Support Loud And Quiet from £3 per month and we'll post you our next 9 magazines

As all of us are constantly reminded, it’s getting harder for independent publishers to stay in business, which applies to Loud And Quiet more now than ever, 14 years after we first started printing a magazine that we’ve always given away for free.

Having thought about the best way to support our running costs (the printing and distribution fees, the podcast and production costs etc.) we’d like to ask our readers who really enjoy what we do to subscribe to our next 9 issues over the next 12 months. The cheapest we can afford to do this for works out at £3 per month for UK subscribers, charged yearly.

If that seems like a bit of a punt, you can pay-as-you-go for £4 per month and cancel any time you like. European and world plans are available too, at the lowest rate we can afford.

It’s not just a donation – you’ll receive a physical copy of our magazine through your door and some extra perks detailed on our subscribe page. Digital subscriptions are available worldwide for £15 per year. We hope you consider this a good deal and the best way to keep Loud And Quiet in your life without its content, independence or existence suffering.