Preoccupations, Methyl Ethel | Thalia Hall | Rock, Pop, Etc | Chicago Reader
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Preoccupations

Alessio Boni

Preoccupations, Methyl Ethel 

When: Wed., Oct. 5, 9 p.m. 2016
Price: $20
By now probably ready to get past the “formerly Viet Cong” footnote—though they’ve only been rid of the controversial name for, say, five months—Calgary postpunk foursome Preoccupations also titled their new record Preoccupations, maybe to drive home the point that they have in fact changed identity. And though the setting of this sophomore effort is still plenty bleak, what with the minimalistic rhythms and bleeding guitar delay wrapping around the chilly (sometimes lifeless) baritone vocals of Matt Flegel, the attack is studied and focused and melodic—their 2015 debut is fascinating for its disjointment and serrated postpunk edge. Opener “Anxiety” begins with a minute plus of whirling feedback before being split open by grinding buzz that’s pulled along by a drum-machinelike beat and a melody so stripped down it reverberates best within negative space. At times sounding like a more flamboyant version of hometown heroes Disappears, Preoccupations eventually roll out the nearly 12-minute “Memory,” which isn’t so much a dirge as an experiment in how repetition can assist in the evolvement of a track—as one portion spirals away, the next catches the groove and begins anew only to eventually devolve into a wash of ambient guitar and synth.
— Kevin Warwick

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