Now, over the past handful of years of this site’s eight-plus year history, I’ve written quite a bit about the Canadian post-punk act and JOVM mainstays Preoccupations. And as you may recall, the band which is comprised of Matt Flegel (bass, vocals), Mike Wallace (drums), Scott Munro (guitar) and Daniel Christiansen (guitar) initially formed under the name Viet Cong — and by the time their 2014 self-titled full-length debut was released, the members of the band found themselves in the middle of a firestorm centered around cultural appropriation and the usage of terms, names and symbols associated with historical groups and actions that evoke the horrors of war, despotism, authoritarianism, fascism, genocide and the like. Ultimately, the band decided to change their name before the release of their sophomore album — and to re-issue their self titled debut with another name.
Released earlier this year through Jagjaguwar Records, Preoccpuations’ third album New Material further cements the bands growing reputation for crafting dark and moody post-punk that touches upon themes of anxiety, uncertainty, creation, destruction and futility while being “an ode to depression. To depression and self-sabotage, and looking inward at yourself with extreme hatred,” the band’s Matt Flegel said in press notes. Much like their sophomore album, the band met without having much written or demoed beforehand — and according to the members of the band, it was arguably one of the most collaborative writing sessions they ever had as a band, with the sessions being extremely architectural in nature, with some ideas (proverbially speaking) being built up while others were torn down to the support beams.
Initially they didn’t know what the songs were about or where they were going with them, they had resolved to let the material show and not explicitly not tell; however, the writing and recording sessions reportedly led to a reckoning for the band’s Flegel. “Finishing ‘Espionage’ was when I realized. I looked at the rest of the lyrics and realized the magnitude of what was wrong,” says Flegel. In fact, the murky and angular Manchester/Joy Division-like first single “Espionage,” while being among the most danceable songs they’ve written and released, focuses on a narrator, who has finally become aware of a disturbing penchant for self-sabotage in every aspect of his life. “Antidote,” New Material‘s second single was centered around propulsive, industrial clang and clatter meant to convey a sweaty anxiety; however, the song is actually about how humans forget that they’re walking, talking, shitting animals — animals that have an infinite amount of knowledge within their fingertips but still manage to repeatedly make the worst possibly choices. “Disarray,” the album’s third single was meditative and slow-burning single featuring shimmering guitar chords, an angular and propulsive bass line, organic drumming and boom bap-like drum machine work during the song’s bridge. And while superficially nodding at Turn On the Bright Lights-era Interpol, the song captures something much darker and uncertain — as it was centered around someone, who from their perspective, views everything they’ve ever known to be a lie. The album’s fourth single “Decompose” was an angular and propulsive track that featured twinkling synths, buzzing power chords and an eerie sense of melodicism that underlies the song’s danceable vibe.
The JOVM mainstays will close out a busy 2018 with a co-headlining tour with long-time friends Protomartyr that will include a November 28, 2018 stop at Warsaw — and you can check out the rest of the tour dates below. And to celebrate the announcement of the tour, the bands have released a split 7 inch in which each band covers the other. The split 7 inch’s latest track is Preoccupations subtle reworking of Protomartyr‘s “Pontiac 87,” that features a slightly sped up tempo and a lush, studio sheen.