A forceful techno LP that sometimes lacks a magic touch.
But two subsequent LPs, the first released in 2013, revitalised the Detroit duo. Kuperus's blank-eyed vocals and misanthropic lyrics were still in place for 2013's The Way Things Fall, but they were tied to a more accessible synth pop sound. More interesting still was last year's Detroit House Guests, where Kuperus and Miller invited Swans' Michael Gira, Douglas McCarthy of Nitzer Ebb and the theremin player Dorit Chrysler into their home studio to collaborate on darkwave tracks that dripped with malevolence.
Those albums pointed to two different new directions for ADULT., neither of which they've followed for their latest LP, This Behavior. It feels instead like a step backwards into a nihilistic void. That might reflect the way the album was put together. Kuperus and Miller recorded it in wintry isolation at a cabin in Northern Michigan, where ADULT. seem to have found new depths of anger and anxiety rather than any sense of escape. The title track, "Perversions Of Humankind" and "Lick Out The Content" all stomp single-mindedly, full of distorted synths, metallic rhythms and Kuperus alternating between stentorian pronouncements and blood-curdling shrieks: "I'm trapped like an animal!"
ADULT. often seem more interested here in techno's force than its funk. That means much of This Behavior will probably sound better live, where the sheer adrenaline of "Irregular Pleasure" would push, as Kuperus puts it, "your back against the wall." They struggle to convey the visceral sensations of the live environment on record, though at their most wired ADULT. jangle your nerves like few others. "Violent Shakes" seems intended to induce exactly that with an electronic screech as torturous as a wrist burn.
There are a few breathers. Compared to the abrasive maelstrom around it, "Does The Body Know?," with its soaring synth and anthemic chorus, is the album's most accessible track. "Silent Exchange" slows things down with a swampy electro-esque beat and eerie vocals. "In All The Debris" could be a post-apocalyptic lullaby. But overall, little of This Behavior has the mystery or subtlety of touch suggested by the gloved magician's hands on the cover. Rather, this is ADULT. showing their iron fist, and not every punch lands.