On an unseasonably warm night in March, 2013, within the august, hallowed walls of the Royal Albert Hall in London, something extraordinary happened. Five musicians took to the stage, launched into a song called Inhaler, and blew the roof off. For the 5,000-plus people who were lucky enough to be present that evening, the experience was more like a mass epiphany at a revivalist meeting than a gig. Foals whipped up a frenzy and sent it hurtling towards the audience, who gave it a shake and sent it hurtling right back. Two hours later, we staggered, reeling, out into the night. This was more than music. This was alchemy.
Preoccupations’ songs have always worked through themes of creation, destruction, and futility, and they’ve always done it with singular post-punk grit. The textures are evocative and razor-sharp. The wire is always a live one. But while that darker side may have been well-explored, that’s not quite the same as it being fully, intensely lived. This time it was, and the result is New Material, a collection that broadens and deepens Preoccupations to a true mastery of their sound. In it lies the difference between witnessing a car crash and crashing your own, between jumping into an ocean and starting to swallow the water.
Framed from within the relentless heatwave of Atlanta, Georgia, Omni cuts through the oppressive humidity of the gilded southern capital with a cool and breezy combo of lo-fi nonchalance. In paying homage to post-punk forebears like Pylon, Wire and Devo, Omni exploits a succinct and focused sound in their 2016 debut. Strung taut with wiry guitar and incisive rhythms, their approach is not without plenty of sneaky, danceable melodies to round off the hard angles. Indeed, Deluxe represents a mission statement to cruise a steady though lavish wave of disenchantment like it was 1979.
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