A couple of weeks ago I wrote a review of an album called Viet Cong by a band called Viet Cong and today I am going to review an album called Preoccupations by a band called Preoccupations. Is there any symbolism in the fact that these are the same bands and this is there second album? I don’t know but if you read this review you just might find out.
Preoccupations are a two-note band. By that I mean they like to use two elements in their song writing. In Anxiety it’s low drowning tones made with Matt Flegel’s singing, the drums and the guitar. This is mixed with high-toned synths to create a very unique sound as a rock band. Sometimes the songs are slow and relaxed, like with Anxiety and sometimes they’re played at a blinding pace.
In Monotony, the second song on the album, the drums and bass work together as a rhythm section and the guitar provides the higher-toned synth sound that creates the same contrasts we find on a lot of other Preoccupation tracks.
On Zodiac, we get the low and the high, but this time the tempo is increased. The album moves along like this until, however we get to the song Memory, which is eleven minutes and twenty seven seconds long and acts as an act break in-between the two halves of the album.
On Preoccupations last album, Viet Cong (the former self-titled album) there was an eleven-minute song, but it was at the end of the album. Putting a song that is so much longer than the rest of the tracks on the album in the middle sort of interrupts the flow of the album. So when I was first listening to the album I was annoyed, I didn’t want to spend eleven minutes on one song, when there were so many pther songs to listen to. But now that I have listened to the album a couple times, it’s nice to have a song that slows the pace of the album down. It gives the music a more relaxed feel; you don’t have to rush through it because you know it will take you too long anyways.
In this album, Preoccupations uses musical elements that usually don’t go together and mix them up in a way that has to be listened to. Stimulation is a prime example of this; the wiry guitar that is usually found in disco songs is mixed with methodically plucking of progressive metal and a chugging bass of Motorhead. But with this song, all of these elements are woven together so expertly that you get something new and interesting.
You really don’t know what is going to come out of a Preoccupations album. In Fever, the last song on the album, we get this fusion of a Phil Colins-esque song with and 80’s eight-bit arcade track. Two disparate styles fuse together in a fashion that only Preoccupations can pull off. It works wonderfully.
One thing that I noticed about this album was that it was a lot more positive in tone than the last one. The music and the lyrics were light and, dare I say it, a little more up beat. Where in Viet Cong, Preoccupation’s last album, everything was all doom and gloom, it seems that Flegel feels a bit better and that shines through in the music, at times I found myself feeling uplifted by the music, which despite how much I loved Viet Cong, I did not feel uplifted listening to that album.
Listening to a song like Memory, the instrumentation feels so soulful and sweet. The soft harmonies of the keyboards in this song uplift the soul. It is one of the reasons this album feels a little lighter than their last one, which is a nice adjustment.
The moment after the album finished I just sat back and felt all of the different things that this album brought to me and I felt a sense of satisfaction or completion and that is something, I think that only happens with a great piece of art.