Formerly known as Viet Cong, Preoccupations are a formidable post-punk foursome hailing from Calgary. Frontman Matt Flegel’s warble is reminiscent of Iggy Pop at his best, and the group’s sound invites comparisons to genre stalwarts like Joy Division and Public Image Ltd., but Preoccupations never feels derivative. The band synthesizes their influences into a sound all their own, blending powerful vocals, emotive keyboard ambience, and spine-tingling guitars into a completely gripping, original sound.
Opener “Anxiety” relishes in eerie feedback for a disquieting minute before suddenly rushing into a confident burst of unnerving vocal melodies and twisted riffs, while the stellar “Zodiac” combines hopeful, ragged verses with spectacular assaults of guitar noise. The 11-minute “Memory” is a fantastic showcase for the group’s musical proficiency, never missing a beat as they tear through a progression of tribal beats, hypnotic bass grooves, and unexpected tempo shifts before dissolving into a sea of hazy white noise.
On “Stimulation” the band whips out a jangly new wave guitar tone to great success, especially in conjunction with the rhythm section’s tight, seductive groove and Flegel’s thrilling, weary vocals. Another major highlight is the single “Degraded,” a surprisingly melodic anthem with a memorable chorus and powerful keyboard crescendoes. Remarkably consistent and fascinatingly varied, Preoccupations is a very impressive sophomore outing with seemingly endless replay value.