Initially formed as Viet Cong, the members of the band now known as Preoccupations — Matt Flegel (bass, vocals), Mike Wallace (drums), Scott Munro (guitar) and Daniel Christiansen (guitar) — unknowingly and unwittingly found themselves in the middle of a furious and tumultuous controversy around cultural appropriation and the association with historical groups that immediately evoke the horrors of despotism, war, genocide, etc. And if you’ve been frequenting this blog or the rest of the blogosphere, you’d know that the members of the band made the difficult decision of changing their name last year.
Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site over the past year, you’d know that when the members of the band reconvened to write the material the would eventually comprise their forthcoming self-titled effort as Preoccupations, each member of the band had found themselves in an unsteady an uncertain state. Some members of the band had years-long relationship end around the time, they were all to reconvene for the album’s recording sessions, and the members of the band had all relocated to different cities across North America, which made their long-established process of writing material while on the road extremely difficult, if not altogether impossible. Adding to the growing sense of uncertainty within the writing and recording process, the members of the band went into them without having a central idea of theme to consider or guide them; and in fact the sessions would be the equivalent of a collective, blind leap of faith.
As the band’s frontman Matt Flegel has explained in press notes, the album’s material draws from very specific things — the sort of things that has most people up at night, fraught with anxiety and despair. And while the album’s first single “Anxiety,” was about the process of both natural and forced change upon the band and people generally, while on another level the song captures the uncertain and uncomfortable push and pull of human relationships, including the bitterness, regret, ambivalence, frustration and self-doubt they almost always gender within us all. The self-titled album’s second single “Degraded” while being a tense and angular song also may arguably be the most straightforward and hook-laden song they’ve written to date. However, lyrically speaking, the song reveals that its full of bilious accusation and recrimination while evoking a dysfunctional relationship splintering apart.
The album’s third and latest single “Memory” is an expansive song that clocks in at just a little under 11:30 and is comprised of three distinct and very different movements held together by the song’s central narrative, which focuses on how much the past and its distortions, influences and invades every relationship and aspect of our lives and relationships. The song’s lengthy and atmospheric introduction consists of shimmering guitar chords paired with an angular, slashing bass line, and propulsive drumming and seems to look back on a relationship with a bit of regret. The song’s second section sounds as though it drew from Joy Division/New Order as shimmering guitar chords, soaring synths and Wolf Parade‘s Don Boecker contributing lilting falsetto vocals and an anthemic hook — and while being a bit bittersweet, the section also conveys a profound sense of joy and wonder before fading out into a coda consisting of gently undulating feedback that lingers with a spectral quality.
As the band’s Scott “Monty” Munro explains in press notes “‘Memory’ was the second song that we started working on for Preoccupations after ‘Anxiety.’ It was unique to the sessions of the record in that we worked on it in every studio that we were in. The idea we had for its arc made it necessary to put more work into it than any of the other tracks. The finished result was worked on in six different studios over almost two years. Getting Dan [Boeckner of Wolf Parade] to record the vocals was the final piece of the puzzle and was Matt [Fiegel]’s idea. We were tracking in Montreal and cold-called him to see if he wanted to sing a duet of songs, but his vocal was so perfect that we didn’t use Matt’s for most of it.” And the end result may be the most cinematic song they’ve released to date.
The band is in the middle of a lengthy world tour, which includes a second New York area stop at Warsaw in October. Check out the tour dates below.
World Tour Dates
09.28.16 – The Rickshaw Theater – Vancouver, BC
10.01.16 – Mac Hall Ballroom – Calgary, AB ^
10.03.16 – WECC – Winnipeg, MB ^
10.04.16 – Fine Line Music Cafe – Minneapolis, Mn ^
10.05.16 – Thalia Hall – Chicago, Il ^
10.07.16 – Crofoot Ballroom – Pontiac, Mi ^
10.08.16 – Danforth Music Hall – Toronto, ON ^
10.11.16 Virgin Mobile Corona Theater Montreal, QC ^
10.12.16 – The Sinclair – Cambridge, Ma ^
10.14.16 – Warsaw – Brooklyn NY ^
10.15.16 – First Unitarian Church – Philadelphia, Pa ^
10.16.16 – Rock & Roll Hotel – Washington DC ^
10.18.16 – Masquerade – Atlanta, Ga ^
10.19.16 – Gasa Gasa – New Orleans, La ^
10.21.16 – The Mohawk – Austin, Tx ^
10.25.16 – Valley Bar – Phoenix, Az ^
10.26.16 – The Irenic – San Diego, Ca ^
10.28.16 – The Roxy – Los Angeles, Ca ^
10.29.16 – The Independent – San Francisco, Ca
11.02.16 – Neumos – Seattle, Wa ^
11.05.15 – Brudenell Social Club – Leeds, UK
11.06.16 – Gorilla – Manchester, UK
11.07.16 – Oval Space – London, UK
11.08.16 – Exchange – Bristol, UK
11.09.16 – The Haunt – Brighton, UK
11.10.16 – Le Guess Who Festival – Utrecht, NL
11.12.16 – Botanique – Brussels, BE
11.14.16 – Pumpehuset – Copenhagen, DK
11.15.16 – Molotow – Hamburg, DE
11.18.16 – Musiques Volantes Festival – Metz, FR
11.21.16 – La Laiterie – Strasbourg, FR
11.22.16 – Klaus – Zurich, CH
11.23.16 – Magnolia – Milan, IT
11.24.16 – Quirinetta – Rome, IT
11.25.16 – Locomotiv – Bologna, IT
11.26.16 – Suprette Festival – Neuchatel, CH
11.28.16 – Luxor – Cologne, DE
^ w/ Methyl Ethel