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ADULT. 

Why Bother? (Thrill Jockey)

Wednesday, Apr 18 2007
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Adam Lee Miller and Nicola Kuperus are happily married, and reside in a tidy house in Detroit. Yet it seems unlikely theirs is a popular doorbell to ring on Halloween. As ADULT., the duo warns listeners it doesn't take a knife-wielding maniac to terrorize the neighborhood; folks who are "well behaved, with nice manners" ("Red Herring") are just as often predators as they are prey.

On its compelling fourth full-length, ADULT. takes the ill-ease of earlier albums like Anxiety Always to panphobic extremes. Hemmed in by piercing synthesizers and rickety-tick drum machines, Kuperus hiccups, howls, and shrieks her displeasure with pack mentality. "I Feel Worse When I'm With You" suggests Dorothy Parker defending herself against a sadistic aerobics instructor, while "I Should Care" rattles frantically like a motivational coach suffering a psychotic break. On "Herd Me," Kuperus repeats "they're mindless" with such terror the words implode into nonsensical syllables. Periodic instrumentals only offer a different kind of tension, a la the all-systems malfunction of "The Importance of Being Folk Part II."

Although sonically, ADULT. occasionally recalls the late-'70s electro-punk of Metal Urbain, its music feels less linear than three-chord rock. There is no obvious release here, just endless circling, like a wild beast chasing its own tail. Why Bother? is fundamentally a product of the suburbs, but these songs will never soundtrack a TV commercial — unless Target starts shilling cyanide capsules. — Kurt B. Reighley

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Kurt Reighley

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