It shouldn't be too controversial for me to say that most bands get more normal as they go along-- they refine themselves, expand their audiences, raise their production values, and clean up all those leftover quirks from back when they didn't think too many people were paying attention anyway. ADULT., being giant weirdos, are one of those bands who've done the opposite, getting progressively more strange and insular. The music on Why Bother? may not be leagues away from the shrieky, gothic electro-punk that's become their signature, but itis different, and it's definitely stranger: Suddenly ADULT. are coming to you from somewhere inside what would seem to be a giant tank of very cold water. These are the same blurting drum machines and scratchy bass lines, but they've gone a bit distant and woozy, with hazy reverb and detuned synths wobbling all around.
Well: Getting more accessible was always a long shot for an act this single-mindedly concerned with themes of discomfort, anxiety, and annoyance. That stuff isn't going anywhere, as a glance at the tracklist will confirm. The lead single is "I Feel Worse When I'm with You", a classically ADULT. barnstormer whose video depicts a day in the Adam Lee Miller/Nicola Kuperus household as a string of attempts to kill either themselves or one another; it's surrounded by tracks like "You Don't Worry Enough", "Inclined to Vomit", and "Plagued by Fear." Kuperus's imagination still focuses on nausea, weapons, panic attacks, poison, CPR, taxidermy, and those murder-mystery photographs of people who may be unconscious but are probably dead-- you know, typical Michigan stuff. Rest assured that they have some sense of humor/irony about these things, if not always as much as you'd like.
And this record backs off on the punk charge (and the goth affectations) to let that good-times creepshow just sit and simmer. "Red Herring" has Kuperus actually singing, melodically-- for the first time in a while-- as an eerie, clanging synth backing runs in place like a giant machine; same goes for the terrific "Good Deeds", whose tempo is actually so high that the whole thing winds up feeling ominously static. Elsewhere, "Harvest" is all industrial ambience, while two parts of something called "The Importance of Being Folk" serve as soundtrack music to a short film involving needlepoint, a rusty axe, and a hexagram. None of this, however, stops the band from delivering some of the deliciously grating, high-energy stuff fans expect: "Inclined to Vomit" is pure pound and screech, and "You Don't Worry Enough" unleashes some hesher-friendly fuzz bass for what feels like the closest ADULT. will ever get to cock rock.
Stranger and stranger, then, and yet we all still know what kind of world we're being invited into with each new ADULT. release: Slow or fast, clean or dirty, underwater or above ground, fans of nerves, paranoia, and the inability to speak will always get what's coming to them. It's a little disappointing that none of the band's stylistic shifts have let them bloom into much more, but as furrows for ploughing go, this one's still pretty fascinating, and still all theirs. *pitchfork
p.s. this upload is dedicated to the adorable Mis Anthropy, or Psychnoir for her everlasting and perverted taste in musi(k) and stuff...