Adoldesscent, the duo's debut album, features solid, workmanlike house tunes with a few outliers tossed in for variety. "Wake People" fuses stomping kicks and boogie-tinged low-end to soaring synths and percolating percussion, while "Nordo" gets its drive from a propulsive bass and an array of blips and bleeps. The throb of "Aska" is punctuated by flitting fiddles (courtesy of Kelley Polar, Metro Area's go-to string man), while something that sounds like a synthesized accordion adds a touch of quirkiness to the tuneful "Farewell House."
There's nothing bad to say about any of them, but knowing that they're produced by Janson and Lauer, they feel somewhat lacking. A few songs stand out, but none are flawless. Fans of '80s throwbacks will enjoy the big, gated snare and eighth-note bassline of "Scared," as well as the twitching electro of "Boilered." But the former's strained baritone, courtesy of Jasnau, will be a turnoff for some, and the latter's big, boilerplate melody sounds like it just missed festival season.
"Tell Me," with Joe Goddard on vocals, fares better—its syncopated kicks, sinewy percussion and staccato synths give the song a slinky feel. "Labyrinth," the album's biggest outlier, might also be the biggest highlight. The bouncy bassline, synth pop melody and Annie's cooing vocals make for the record's most sparkling moment. Surely Tuff City Kids have a great album in them—Adoldesscent isn't quite it.