- The EBM churn of the group's eighth album doesn't always land.
- ADULT., the married duo of Nicola Kuperus and Adam Lee Miller, recorded Perception is/as/of Deception, their eighth studio album, in a windowless basement painted completely black. This perhaps says something about ADULT. as a group. For the past 20-odd years, they've used EBM, electro, synth pop and other styles to survey the physical and mental spaces where other people don't readily want to go.
Kuperus's snarled, dislocated lines, covering themes of alienation, confusion and anger, places ADULT. in the punk lineage. She doesn't craft songs of any great nuance or invention. Raw attitude is perhaps her biggest asset. When paired with the time-tested ADULT. instrumentation of chafed drum machines and chubby synth lines, her lines are satisfyingly gritty. With Kuperus's mode of delivery being a near-constant down the years, the variety from album to album has usually been found in the facet of ADULT. each project focuses on.
This is a very rough guide, but let's say Resuscitation, their 2001 debut, was electro; 2005's Gimmie Trouble, post-punk; The Way Things Fall, from 2013, synth pop; Detroit House Guests, which featured a raft of collaborators, perhaps minimal wave. The sounds of those last two records worked wonderfully well for Kuperus and Miller, which made 2018's This Behaviour a little disappointing. Its EBM and techno workouts were recognisably ADULT. but comparatively straight-shooting, with the kinks, folds and hooks of those prior albums mostly discarded. The same could often be said of Perception is/as/of Deception.
There is still plenty to like about the very existence of ADULT. at this moment in electronic music. The styles of grubby music they represent have, arguably, never been more feted. Rather than merely adopt these dark and dastardly aesthetics, however, Kuperus and Miller embody them, and have done for decades. They pose. They wear sunglasses in shopping malls. They record in blackened basements. "We Look Between Each Other" opens things with what could be an aggy update of Throbbing Gristle's "Hot On The Heels Of Love." "Voiceless stares, in dead air," Kuperus sings, setting an immediate tone. "Why Always Why" is a super tight and effective execution of this churning style of ADULT. I could imagine Marcel Dettmann crescendoing a Berghain set with "Have I Started At The End." And "Don't Reduce Me" is a rare but welcome step away from the 4/4 pistons, its angle-grinder synth seeming to fire up Kuperus: "Don't reduce me to an image / Don't reduce me to your image."
The flipside of ADULT.'s style and image, however, is that Perception is/as/of Deception can sometimes have a last-punks-at-the-party vibe. Tracks like "Total Total Damage," "Second Nature" and "Untroubled Mind" left me thinking, "Ah now, c'mon, things aren't that bad, are they?" In other words, viewing the rage as simulated or rote rather than exhilarating or rabble-rousing. It's not my place to say that I wish they'd either fully explored or merely included some styles from their earlier albums. But I wish they'd either fully explored or merely included some styles from their earlier albums.
01. We Look Between Each Other
02. Second Nature
03. Don't Reduce Me
04. Why Always Why
05. Total Total Damage
06. Have I Started at the End
07. Controlled By
08. Reconstruct The Construct
09. Untroubled Mind