Preoccupations’ (previously Viet Cong) self-titled sophomore release shines a murky spotlight on Matt Flegel’s not-quite-monotone singing, almost the only aspect of the band’s soundscape that is consistently the point of focus throughout the record. That’s not to say there’s no direction throughout the record, but it swoops and swivels, almost unsure of its transitory nature. Take “Monotony” for example. The track is reminiscent of Joy Division with its dreary, reverb-draped vocals, but features a hopeful little guitar line fading in and out at the end of the chorus. The track that follows, “Zodiac,” could be mistaken as another band’s song, as it follows an oscillating synth pulse all the way through.
“Memory,” again a departure, starts with a distinctly funk-flavoured drum and organ intro, only to give way to watery guitars reverberating over a much darker tonality lent to the track by Flegel’s morose singing. Tracks like “Sense” distinctly recall Interpol’s more energetic spin on the Joy Division formula.
It seems as if Preoccupations is supposed to serve as a taster platter of sorts, and if you can stomach the bittersweet collection of tracks, it’s pretty tasty.