Preoccupations, formerly Viet Cong, have kept the genre of post-punk alive and relevant. Their latest album, New Material, continues to do so. Compared to their previous work, New Material is more accessible, but maintains the complicated rhythmic structures and melodies that their fans enjoy.
Their tight, cool sound is still present within the album in songs like “Disarray” and “Manipulation,” but is accompanied by ambience in the majority of its songs, making it stand out from the rest of their music. Although the vocals can get washed out at times and some of the tracks tend to be repetitive, New Material is still enjoyable.
From a first listen, it was easy to detect the 80’s pop influence within the songs on the album– tracks like “Espionage” and “Solace” have strong resemblances to The Clash and Duran Duran in their calls, response vocals and synth-filled melodies. However, Preoccupations does attempt to maintain some of their characteristic sound. Tracks like “Antidote” feature Matthew Flegel’s baritone vocals and vague, repeated lyrics that are constrained to triplets– “Information overdose/ looking for antidote/ uneven ratios/ under a microscope”– and are more recognizable to those who are familiar with Preoccupations’ previous work. Mike Wallace’s tight, energetic drums still continue to be the driving force behind each of the tracks as well– his drums are featured heavily in “Antidote” which concludes with a swirling rhythmic vortex. The mood shifts in the middle of the song, and Wallace’s drumming takes up the last few minutes of the song, leaving listeners in a trance.
This album is the perfect companion for a long drive on a foggy day– its large space, accompanied by minimalistic music videos and art, creates a cold, eerie aesthetic and allows listeners to take a lot away from a little.