Friday, 18 November 2016
Canadian band Viet Cong left quite an impression with their dark music on the first record. By spending many hours on stage they are able to play their music live convincingly as well. Until their controversial name was causing a lot of resistance and they were forced to re-brand to Preoccupations. Maybe it was quite naive to choose that initial name in the first place, but it feels like starting over again.
Fortunately that's not the case on the first album with the new name, that comes without a title like their debut, and where all song titles are only one word. It is clear right from opening track 'Anxiety' that the band is still mostly dark and their music a mix of new wave and post-rock with the thundering voice of Matt Flegel, who is chanting his lyrics monotonously. He can rely on a very strong rhythm section who are putting down repeating riffs and grooves in an impressive way, that give the music a threatening and sometimes industrial face. For example 'Zodiac' starts off stormy with drums that like a pile driver hammer the foundation in place.
But this time there are also lighter moments, like on 'Degraded', a new wave song with a nice intro and bass line. Two very short songs go back to back, 'Sense' and 'Forbidden', that are paving the way for the anxious 'Stimulation', a haunting song that keeps repeating the sombre line "there’s nothing you can do ‘cause we’re all dead inside, all gonna die". The amazing 'Fever' closes the album, where you can hear heavy Kraftwerk-like synthesizers and that could easily be used as a soundtrack. The band knows how to use these synthesizer layers in a very effective way in their music.
The more than eleven minutes long 'Memory' summarizes the record at best. After an ominous intro and a dark first half the vibe changes halfway, where the higher vocals of Wolf Parade's Dan Broeckner bring alleviation. Here you can hear the recurring elements again, that demonstrate the power of repetition very well. After two thirds of the song the feedback of guitars are used for a long and oppressive outro. It is typical for Preoccupations and it only asks for more.
Listen to Preoccupations on Spotify:
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