Album Reviews

Preoccupations – New Material

(Jagjaguwar) UK release date: 23 March 2018

Preoccupations - New Material Preoccupations’ new record is called – hilariously – New Material. It feels like years since the whole ‘name change’ fiasco, but it feels like their first record under this name (2016’s self-titled effort) is still relatively fresh in the mind, despite both incidences taking place only months from each other.

The new record, pleasingly, is a development of the sound of the self-titled – but also has a through-line to the sound we first heard on Cassette, and on the other record.

The album bursts open with a bunch of Preoccupations hallmarks – strangled Peter Murphy yelps, mid-era Steven Severin bass thunder, hiss-n-click Stephen Morris drumming – but it feels more open, more widescreen. The shuddering, jittery rhythm of Decompose seems to throw you one way, then another – it’s got a tightly wound bassline and shards of angular guitar screech. Another success.

Album highlight Disarray is constructed on top of another monstrous Cure/Banshees bass groove – its driving, powerful muscularity pushes the track into almost danceable territory. The black-lipstick-smeared vocals return on Manipulation – which sounds like Bauhaus remixed by Brian Eno – and Antidote. There’s acres of space around Matt Flegel’s powdery, lofty baritone.

Solace, the next track, could be seen as a misstep by some, as it sounds like the band recording a fresh guitar line and vocals over a Joy Division demo. It’s unpolished, and unambitious – and has been done a million times. Luckily, the dusty darkwave of Doubt and the haunting post-rock of Compliance do enough to pull the album out of an unexpected lull.

If anyone, at this stage, is going into a Preoccupations record unsure of what they’ll be getting, then they should be directed towards the ‘Similar Artists’ menu for Bauhaus on Allmusic. As it is, New Material is now their fourth release. It may be the most consistent of the lot, but it isn’t the strongest. That accolade, for now, goes to their previous record purely because of the variety of textures and tones. But it’s exciting to see what comes next.

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