New Material

Preoccupations - New Material
Critic Score
Based on 21 reviews
2018 Ratings: #588 / 850
User Score
Based on 250 ratings
2018 Ratings: #448
Liked by 3 people
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Examinations of creation, destruction and the ways that we often practice the two in vain have regularly been tethered to the Canadian post-punk band’s work—even going back to their days as Viet Cong. And while that’s quite a downcast undertaking, it’s one that goes hand-in-hand with Preoccupations’ dystopian-future-sounding music. With their third LP, New Material, they dive into it headlong, getting closer to Munro’s stated goal than ever before.

Northern Transmissions

Tackling their inner demons like never before on New Material, the band creates intense moods along with rhythms that not only make these tones accessible but understandable.

The Line of Best Fit

Each track on New Material is its own – while certain songs definitively outshine others, they all contain their own character and energy resulting in something not only haunting an enigmatic, but something rather stunning.

Tiny Mix Tapes

Founded on the band’s hefty but nervous guitar-bass-drums latticework and festooned with uneasy synthesizers that sound like white noise machines for people who never sleep, the album alternatingly lurches and shudders through scenes of intense maladjustment.

On the crowded post-punk landscape, Preoccupations do well to carve out their own place, with their rawer, more personal approach. Arguably the most whole and complete Preoccupations release to date it can feel as though the album has been robbed of some of their most impulsive pushes into the unknown.

Another evolution in the way Preoccupations bring poetic soulfulness to post-punk, New Material lives up to its name -- it's not just another batch of songs, it's a fresh approach that feels like a breakthrough.


From the word go, the album endeavours to rattle you every which way in search of an answer. But, like therapy, this isn’t a search for right answers. It’s more a search for the strength to acknowledge what is happening in the here and now. A search for any answer in the fog of confusion.


The band’s third full-length is an easier and more melodic entry into their spindly post-punk. Here, their defeatism takes on a new tenor: battle-worn, sincere, and not quite so antagonistic.

Loud and Quiet

On ‘New Material’, the Canadian band continue down that path apace; the lines on this album are lean to the point of being clinical, and the tempo is relentless, with the prominent rhythm section rattling along with more purpose than on either of this album’s predecessors.

By the end of it, it’s very clear that this is a deadly serious record – not a parody, not even an homage, but a largely enjoyable marriage of the stodge with the airy and the old with the new which manages to retain an impressive sense of cohesiveness and consistency.

In many ways, New Material is a natural progression of what Preoccupations have done and continue to do better than just about anyone else at the moment. Their command of the genre's signifiers and traditions remains unparalleled; they've just added a more personal touch to the process.

Drowned in Sound

New Material hits the spot more often than not. And there’s something thrilling about the fact you still can’t quite pin Preoccupations down: their shifting sound isn’t a logical evolution, but a shifting journey into the dark.

No Ripcord

New Material is another strong LP from a watertight band, and a great access point for a listener overwhelmed by the oppressive brutishness of their previous LPs.


New Material is now their fourth release. It may be the most consistent of the lot, but it isn’t the strongest.

A.V. Club

New Material is sure to divide fans down the middle, leaving them questioning Preoccupations’ intent as, for perhaps the first time, the band is more keen on playing things close to the chest.

The 405

New Material may seem like a step backwards overall, but it’s still promising – feeling like a more hesitant commitment to change than the forthright statement they intended.


New Material's subjects are too broad for incisive commentary, and its themes of disenfranchisement and helplessness are played too straight for dark comedy. Ultimately, it's about as expressive as those one-word titles would suggest.


New Material is an album that achieves a lot, but accepts failure as an option and takes it with a begrudging grace. So much can be made out of the stories told in the album's songs, but with the general lack of ideas, the role of the doomsayer is running its course for Preoccupations.

The Needle Drop

New Material is Preoccupations' most lackluster album so far.

Under The Radar

Too often there's a subpar post-punk feel, scraping together an Interpol baseline here and a Joy Division riff there. The intricate complexity that marked the previous two albums doesn't seem to come together here, struggling to reach the dark, coiled up sounds unspooling on Viet Cong and Preoccupations.

More like.....Boring Material

Step I: Read my review discussing the predecessor...

Step II: Suspension of disbelief; put yourself in a position where the musical aspects of the predecessor are actual positive qualities...

Step III: In this new case, think of these "positive qualities" as being completely removed or at least heavily diluted...

Step: IV: Realizing that you exaggerated like me for the description of Preoccupation's self titled...yet here, it also seems to be rather telling...

Result: You got this ... read more
Original Rating: 70/100

New Material starts really well. Preoccupations bring to life an interesting sound with dark, well constructed instrumental work and intriguingly energetic and eerie vocals, perfect for the gothic post-punk sound they support. After the first few tracks the record suffers from a lack of variance in the pacing and there's a bunch of repetitive parts within the tracks which leads to the music feeling less engaging and very passive. The elements actually stay pretty high ... read more
This is the apex this group has been climbing to. Pure energy with an industrial ting that keeps you locked in. The vocals are hauntingly immaculate, coming off equally taunting and angelic. A simple concept transformed into a roller coaster of action and depression, with plenty of unexpected turns that amaze me to no end. A shorter review for an album that speaks for itself only, so fuck yes, this album rocks.

BEST TRACKS: Antidote, Decompose, Manipulate, Solace, Espionage, Disarray
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Added on: January 16, 2018