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Benner’s B-Sides: Preoccupations s/t revives post-punk in 2016

Edward Benner reviews and analyzes the latest and greatest music releases in order to give them the exposure and praise they deserve. “Benner’s B-Sides” bridges the gap between the underground and the mainstream so that the reader can discover their new favorite artist.

Preoccupations+further+crafts+their+unique+blend+of+post+punk+and+dark+synthesizers+with+their+latest+self-titled+album+released+Sept.+16.++The+Canadian+band+manages+to+evolve+even+after+three+name+changes.
Preoccupations further crafts their unique blend of post punk and dark synthesizers with their latest self-titled album released Sept. 16.  The Canadian band manages to evolve even after three name changes.

Preoccupations further crafts their unique blend of post punk and dark synthesizers with their latest self-titled album released Sept. 16. The Canadian band manages to evolve even after three name changes.

PitchFork

PitchFork

Preoccupations further crafts their unique blend of post punk and dark synthesizers with their latest self-titled album released Sept. 16. The Canadian band manages to evolve even after three name changes.

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Post punk had its genesis in the late 1970s, as many bands broke away from the punk-movement of the time to create more experimental and less formulaic music that still contained the energy and political commentary of the original genre. Bands like Joy Division and The Cure created a distinct, intense sound that was characterized by heavy percussion, complex basslines, airy guitar tones, and the use of dark synthesizers. This new genre pushed musical boundaries and its influence is still felt today.

The band Preoccupations (formerly known as Viet Cong) is a modern post punk band that has shown how the genre can still sound refreshing and inventive all these decades later. The release of their 2015 self-titled album “Viet Cong” and 2016 self-titled album “Preoccupations” has established them as one of the leading groups of the post-punk revival. Matt Flegel’s monotone delivery, feedback-ridden guitars, brutal drumming, and aggressive basslines make for some of the most intense and memorable musical experiences in recent history.

Throughout their latest album, lead singer Matt Flegel is intentionally grim. His low voice often comes off as menacing and, the subject matter and instrumentation complement this tone. The album opener, “Anxiety,” is about feeling trapped in a shell of a body and experiencing hopelessness due to extreme anxiety. There is a cacophony of sound with biting guitars and a strangely beautiful use of synthesizers in the chorus.

The next song, “Monotony,” discusses how sticking to a strict, disciplined lifestyle can harm the natural order. This bleak outlook is continued in the track “Degraded,” where Flegel sings that humans are ridden with flaws and incapable of abstract thinking so, therefore, they resort to degrading into fractions of themselves. The songs “Stimulation” and “Forbidden” contain violent imagery and commentary about individuals being used in an unforgiving world.

The centerpiece of the album is the track entitled “Memory” that spans eleven and a half minutes. It is about a slow descent into madness and not being able to remember previous mistakes. It also examines the theme of alienation as Flegel sings, “Your favorite feeling was the ground falling out from beneath your feet.” The song’s conceptual structure contains a long ambient and drone outro to resemble the emptiness of the mind as all memory is lost.

The album’s lyricism is harrowing and it serves as a window into the psyche of the band. The name (Preoccupations) in itself means being completely obsessed or engrossed. The band consciously creates art that is thought-provoking and not always easy to digest. They are interested in challenging their listeners and exposing them to new ideas and sounds.

Preoccupations brings a level of intensity to their music that is unparalleled. The passion behind their playing and their resilience after three name changes and separate iterations is truly noteworthy.

Their evolution in sound to include synthesizers and more mature songwriting in this latest project will hopefully allow them to garner the praise they deserve. Their dedication to the preservation of post-punk will likely inspire a whole new iteration of emerging bands who will carry the genre even further into the future-proof that “Punk’s not dead!”

Edward Benner is a News Editor for The Patriot and jcpatriot.com.

 

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Benner’s B-Sides: Preoccupations s/t revives post-punk in 2016