And the circle is complete. Any Preoccupations fan will understand what these words mean, as the band’s latest album, New Material, completes a trilogy that began with Viet Cong (when they were known under that name) and continued with 2016’s self-titled album. Like the previous two, New Material is a dark, bleak, and trembling concept album that shakes the listener to the core.

The hypnotic “Antidote” is like a hallucinogenic, except this place is harrowing and mechanical. Front man Matt Flegel’s loopy and robotic vocals mirror his lyrics about the information overload that destroys and the narcissism that governs us. The eerie and trance-like “Doubt” addresses the notion of how we are followers to the world order. This act of obedience can only be interpreted as “Compliance”, which is a gruelling, industrial number.

Preoccupations, however, are masters of contrast to tell their stories. On “Disarray”, they offer a beacon of light into their darkness – at least musically. It all feels like a dream, but the story is a nightmare, as Flegel solemnly hollers, “Everything you’ve been told is a lie”. These lies are further accentuated on the gripping, stark, and emotional “Manipulation”. The roaring, Joy Division-esque “Espionage”, meanwhile, explains how the manipulation is ingrained into our psyche and morals. We are told we are valuable, which is true until we become expendable and don’t fit the norm. Still we strive for acceptance, as revealed on the mysterious and enchanting “Decompose”.

New Material is more than just an album. It is a psychological and sociological examination of recent history and the state of today’s world. Through different prisms and perspectives while playing on our deepest emotions, fears, and hopes, Preoccupations tell us things we need to hear before it’s too late. They seek to open our eyes before it’s all too late. There are very few bands who challenge people in so many ways, and Preoccupations are the gurus of this unique art.

Preoccupations are Matt Flegel (vocals/bass), Scott Munro (guitar/synth), Daniel Christiansen (guitar), and Mike Wallace (drums).

New Material is out now via Jagjaguwar and Flemish Eye. Streaming and purchase links are here or go directly to Bandcamp.

To review the first 25 of our Favorite Albums of 2018, click here. The final 25 of our Favorite Albums, meanwhile, is available here.

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