Preoccupations: New Material review – fresh start for band formerly known as Viet Cong

New Material
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Artist: Preoccupations
Genre: Alternative
Label: Jagjaguwar

The artists formerly known as Viet Cong have now doubled the output of their controversial moniker. While Viet Cong certainly wasn't exactly a safe bet for a band name, provoking accusations of racism and cultural appropriation, the whole furore begs the question whether a band called Joy Division or New Order would be tolerated in a hyper-sensitive modern age.

The Canadians used to be a band called Women, who dissolved after an onstage fight. Their guitarist, Christopher Reimer, died in 2012, at the tragically tender age of 26.

Preoccupations have moved on musically, bringing more electronica to the table in a bid to broaden their claustrophobic post-punk. Consisting entirely of songs with one-word titles, New Material follows Tracey Thorn's Record as another plainly titled but exceedingly pleasing album.

Disarray shows they know how to detonate a thrilling pop melody smack bang in the middle of an experimental soundscape, making them sound a little like a 21st century Pere Ubu. Solace starts off like a long-lost Joy Division track, before heading off to do its own sweet thing with a psychedelic guitar solo and curiously uplifting lyrics about completely falling apart.


Even better is the instrumental parting glass, Compliance, which sounds like a contemporary post-punk cousin of I Am a God by Kanye West as updated by Bauhaus, but with added drone. Sounds absolutely mental on paper, but very much a good thing.