Over the past handful of years, I’ve written quite a bit about the Canadian post-punk act and JOVM mainstays Preoccupations. And as you may recall, the band’s third full-length album New Material was released last year through Jagjaguwar Records, and the album further cements the band’s growing reputation or 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 explained 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, as some ideas were (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 making terrible 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.
Album closer “Compliance” is a decided and stark sonic departure for the band as it’s a climatic wall of industrial clang, clatter and other noise — but two chiming tones peak up and rise upward, giving the instrumental track a yearning nature. Directed by Nicholas Brown and Evan Henderson, the recently released video for “Compliance” is set in a post-apocalyptic world, featuring an enigmatic forest spirit named “Mariah.” As the band explains in press notes, “Mariah has awakened from eons of slumber to a world that has long been abandoned by humans and heavily mutated by their waste and consumption. As Mariah struggles to make sense of this new world, she grieves for the one she has lost forever. The Mariah creature was painstakingly designed and constructed by Brown, portrayed by Henderson, and captured by the haunting and beautiful cinematography of Adam Stewart. Compliance brings a close to this chapter of the band as we look towards the future and marvel at the new heights their [sic] music will take.”
The band is about to embark on tour of the Southern and Central European Union. Check out the tour dates below.