- by Jim Harris Rating:10 Release Date:2016-09-16 Label: Jagjaguwar
Punk died on my and fellow Soundblab writer Rob Taylor’s birthday in 1979 (12/14) when a post-punk album called: London Calling by you know who was released… This album was released by the most popular punk band of all-time and had a guitarist in it who would become the Father of 90s punk rock, Joe Strummer. But it was the most obvious post-punk album as it unsealed the canister of angry undisciplined 2-chord punk songs and mated this rock ethic with reggae, jazz, pop, old-fashioned rock and roll and theater structures, if you will. Punk was further nailed dead with the very next release of the PT Barnum of post-punk albums, Sandinista! Which had this famous band filling three CDs with musical juggling acts, and jangly political extravaganzas, as Mick Jones and Joe Strummer both tried to outshine the other with pop ditties of all kinds, well, you’ll just have to hear it. And why all this historical gibberish, you might ask?
Preoccupations and this their second self-titled album is a true post-punk product. It has no influences I can hear related to punk but is directly tied to the punk band that broke out and established the most important strand of post-punk music, Joy Division. Their 1979 release, Unknown Pleasures, is the most defining post-punk album on record. After several listens of Preoccupations I keep hearing ‘Shadow Play’ and ‘Disorder’ and ‘New Dawn Fades’ and in fact, on my SD card in my car I just have to scroll a bit up and there that Joy Division album is. I can hear them for real. As I do. Frequently. Almost 40 years later.
Preoccupations, better than Interpol or early Editors, or thousands of other post-punk bands from the late 90s to early 00s who tried to re-imagine that isolation, and stifling emotional hollowness through the use of foreboding voice and accompanying music, do it better than anyone out there today.
With songs such as ‘Anxiety’, ‘Degraded’, ‘Forbidden’, ‘Monotony’, all wrapped around a sinister voice and dark electronics, and each and every song carefully well-imagined, this band formerly known as Viet Cong, is heading up a new wave of darker post-punk that delivers the goods.
It seemed obvious they would have to change their name as their presence in the music world expanded and better now than later, but Preoccupations are the real deal. Owing to that, this second album may not be quite as manic and adventurous as the first one, but with the 11 minute track ‘Memory’ smack dab in the middle, you see a maturity that begins to pay as much homage to the industrial bands of the 90s and comparisons to Odonis Odonis, more than Joy Division.
But that’s just comparing it all. Preoccupations simply kick ass with their vision and delivery. One of the best albums this year.
Man, I love this album. 2016 is redeeming itself. The last Viet Cong album was fantastic. All guts and glory, just a wall of sound, and this is similarly wonderful. Great review Jim. Listen to the new Goat as well. Things are hotting up.
Pretty good album!