Album review: Preoccupations, “Preoccupations”

by Jon E. Lynch

Preoccupations, “Preoccupations”

Available: Sept. 16 via Jagjaguwar as a download, CD, LP and in limited-edition bundles consisting of a clear vinyl LP and a bonus 7-inch featuring covers from Yellow Magic Orchestra and The Raincoats.

Many know the old adage that loosely says, “There is no such thing as bad publicity.” I personally tend to believe that to be largely true, although the members of the Calgary, Alberta, indie/post-punk band Viet Cong may beg to differ. The story has been told and retold and is a keystroke search away, so I will provide a truncated version.

Jagjaguwar recording artist Women broke up after what culminated in an onstage fight in 2010. A couple remaining band members formed Viet Cong in 2012 and put out a cassette tape. In 2015, the band released its self-titled debut with overwhelmingly positive critical reception. With that reception came exposure, with exposure came attention, with attention came criticism. Criticizing a band’s name, to me, is an utter waste of time/energy. Then again, I tend to fall on the Billy Shakespeare side of the “what’s in a name” fence.

Fast forward to September 2015 and an announcement of a forthcoming name change. In a social media post, the fellas tell fans and anyone who cares that they “… 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.” Somewhere soon after (the brilliantly tongue-in-cheek?) PREOCCCUPATIONS came to be.

Preoccupations was one of my most highly-anticipated records of 2016 and it has surpassed expectations. This is purposefully crafted, discordant, beautifully bleak post-punk at its finest. There is some familiarity, stylistically speaking, along with newly utilized synths adding a bit of heaviness and bombast. The angular, off-time-but-in-time, guitar riffs are present, as are the [choose your favorite indie/punk baritone vocalist. Matt Berninger? Ian Curtis? Paul Banks?] enigmatic front-person vocals. Remember this record when compiling your Best of 2016. I most definitely will.

For fans of post punk in the vein of The Soft Moon, Bauhaus, DIIV, Sonic Youth or SUUNS

Jon E. Lynch[email protected]


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