Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site over the past couple of years, you’ve likely come across a number of posts on the Canadian post punk act 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 highly controversial name Viet Cong. And as a result, the members of the Canadian post punk act found themselves in the middle of a furious and tumultuous debate centered around appropriation — and appropriating terms, names and symbols associated with historical groups and actions that evoke the horrors of despotism, fascism, war and genocide. Ultimately, the band decided it was best to change their name before the release of their highly-anticipated sophomore album.
Interestingly, when the members of Preoccupations reconvened to write the material, that would comprise their self-titled, sophomore album, each individual member of the band found themselves in an unsteady and uncertain position — at the the time, they all relocated to different cities across North America, which made their long-established creative process of writing material while on the road extremely difficult and impractical. Along with that, several members of the band had long-term relationships end, as they were about to write the album. Adding to a growing sense of uncertainty, the band went into the writing sessions without having a central idea or theme to consider or help guide them, making the sessions akin to a collectively blind leap of faith. The album thematically wound up drawing from very specific things — the anxiety, despair and regret that keeps most people up at night. Album singles like “Anxiety,” simultaneously focused on both the natural and forced changes placed upon the members of the band, but also managed to capture the confusing push and pull of most human relationships while “Degraded” one the album’s most straightforward and hook-laden songs was full of bilious accusation and recrimination. The album’s expansive, third single “Memory” focused on the weight of the past, and how it impacts every single relationship and aspect of our lives.
Building upon a growing reputation for crafting dark and moody post punk, centered around themes of creation, destruction, futility, the Canadian post-punk band’s third, full-length album New Material is slated for March 23, 2018 release through Jagjaguwar Records, and the album, which finds the band recording the album themselves and enlisting the assistance of Justin Meldal-Johnson on mixing duties is as the band’s frontman Matt Flegel puts it in press notes, “an ode to depression. To depression and self-sabotage, and looking inward at yourself with extreme hatred.” Much like their previous album, the band went into the process without much written or demoed — and it was arguably the most collaborative writing sessions that they’ve ever had with the band describing the process as being architectural, with the members of the band building some ideas up, while others were torn down to the support beams. Although they didn’t initially know what the songs were about, they had resolved for the material to show and not explicitly tell.
Reportedly, the writing and recording sessions led to a reckoning for 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. To that end, it’s interesting that “Espionage,” the murky and angular Manchester/Joy Division-like single is the first single off New Material — and in some way, the song evokes a narrator, who has finally become aware of his disturbing penchant for self-sabotage in every aspect of his life — all while arguably been one of the most danceable songs they’ve written to date. New Material’s second and latest single “Antidote” continues in a similar vein as its predecessor as it draws from Factory Records’ heyday, as the song features a propulsive, industrial clang and clatter-like rhythm paired with slashing and angular guitar and bass lines. And although it conjures up a sweaty anxiety, the song as Flegel explains in press notes “is about humans forgetting that we’re apes. It’s about trying to make sense out of something that we’d be better off not trying to make sense of. It’s about having infinite knowledge at our fingertips, but still making all the wrong choices over and over. It’s about trying to find a moment in your day where you can take a breath and remember that we’re basically all just animals bumbling around.”
Directed by Michael Wallace and Evan Pearce, the recently released video for “Antidote” features the use of negatives superimposed upon each other to further emphasize the hallucinogenic and murky vibes of the song.