Adult breaks new ground in musical anxiety

Adult’s music revolves around a number of themes: paranoia, confusion, annoyance and a general feeling of discomfort. The time and energy this Detroit duo has devoted to these areas of the human experience is either inspirational or extremely troubling.

While other bands adopt, by default, the mission of transmitting to the listener more acceptable feelings of joy or sadness, Adult chooses to bypass these hackneyed emotions and breaks new ground in musical anxiety.

Adult is comprised of Nicola Kuperus and Adam Lee Miller, by far the best boy-girl combo from Detroit today, contrary to what the peppermint-themed magazine covers we have been accosted with for the last 16 months would have you believe.

Adult is oft categorized as “electro,” but on their sophomore full length, Adult seems to work best in more of a “band” context.

The tightest and best songs on “Anxiety Always” feature instrumental line-ups that push the limits of what can believably be done by two people in a live setting. “Glue Your Eyelids Together” combines a simple bass line, some perfectly orchestrated keyboard squeals and pre-programmed beats. Kuperus’ affected vocal delivery brings it all back home.

Indeed, “Anxiety Always’” sonic pedigree picks up satisfyingly were Joy Division’s “She Lost Control” left off. It was a winning formula in which Joy Division itself held only a passing interest, but which foreshadowed an entire musical revolution: Peter Hook’s bass line taking front stage holding the melody, electronic drums, keyboards peppering the thing with strange amateur abandon, all complimenting Ian Curtis’ odd vocal (non)melody.

Part on the reason Joy Division didn’t do more with this musical setup, and also the reason latter day bands like Adult find it so useful, is that you don’t need many people to make it.

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More extreme introverts who can’t be bothered with meeting more than one or two other people for the purposes of making music find robotic allies in things that can be preprogrammed.

Kuperus’ vocal style owes a bit to Ian Curtis, strangely enough. Falling in and out of natural English pentameter, and paying little attention to conventional timbre, Kuperus delivers distorted vocals with an urgency that stops short of being as disarming as Curtis’, but still retains some of that “punch”.

She has that Manchester marching-in-place staccato delivery down on lines like “I’ve been working on increasing by anxiety, it’s something I can do for free” from “Blank Eyed, Nose Bleed.”

Humorous, human, mechanical, an Adult CD may not “get the party started” at your typical frat house or beach volleyball game, but for some, it’s just what the doctor ordered. �