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Preoccupations - Arrangements (Album Review)

Monday, 12 September 2022 Written by Craig Howieson

Photo: Erik Tanner

The music of Canada’s Preoccupations, despite its family tree of identifiable influences, has always held a futuristic quality. Matt Flegel, Mike Wallace, Scott Munro and Daniel Christiansen are well equipped when it comes to weaving barbed intrusions into a dystopian future, and theirs is a world of shimmering silvers and soul-sapping greys where their particular brand of post-punk seems perfectly at home.

It is perhaps because the imagined dystopia they once painted has now started to manifest itself that we see the band retreat into the annals of history on their new record. 'Arrangements', the group's fourth LP, plays out like a haunted postcard from the past. 

Deep synth samples and shuddering basslines simultaneously conjure Thatcher's Britain and the hollowed out heart of the US rust belt.

New Order and ‘80s new wave lurk close to the surface without ever stealing the scene, and at a slender seven tracks Preoccupations careen from hopefulness to despair and back again. 

And there is hope here. Despite the band's often bleak outlook—using the horrors of the past to forewarn of a similar future—there is undoubtable levity stitched into the lining of 'Arrangements', something you couldn't always say about their discography to date. 

A sense of euphoria rumbles through opener Fix Bayonets! and it is an awakening, a song to steal you from slumber to make the changes you’ve been meaning to. It is also no bad thing that it is reminiscent of Interpol at their skyscraping best. 

There is also a certain comfort in the numbing escape of Slowly as its second half disappears into a white noise of guitars. When much of the band’s catalogue has verged on industrial-noise-rock, even the most nuanced moments hit hard, such as the trancey dancefloor electronics of Recalibrate, which dissipate into its ambient final moments.

We live in scary times. Times it feels like Preoccupations have been writing about for a while now. But on 'Arrangements' instead of grandstanding and pointing out that they saw this coming all along, they instead reflect the harsh realities we face as a means of camaraderie, and offer glimmers of hope that some things, even if that is just the escape good music can provide, prevail.

Preoccupations Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Tue February 07 2023 - MARGATE Elsewhere
Wed February 08 2023 - BRISTOL Fleece
Thu February 09 2023 - HULL Adelphi
Fri February 10 2023 - LEEDS Brudenell Social Club
Sat February 11 2023 - GLASGOW Garage (G2)
Sun February 12 2023 - LIVERPOOL District
Mon February 13 2023 - MANCHESTER YES (The Pink Room)
Wed February 15 2023 - BIRMINGHAM Hare And Hounds
Thu February 16 2023 - LONDON Scala

Compare & Buy Preoccupations Tickets at Stereoboard.com.


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