Have you ever been enjoying a piece of hard candy, only to bite into a piece of the foil wrapper stuck to it? The way the metallic taste undercut the saccharine sweetness goes a long way toward describing the sound of electro-punk duo ADULT. who hail from Detroit. The Motor City, of course, figures largely in modern electronic music. Think of pioneers such as the Belleville Three--Derrick May, Juan Atkins and Kevin Saunderson--who merged disco, Kraftwerk and funk to form techno. In the tradition of their hometown, ADULT.'s electro sounds bleed from their pores like drops of silver mercury.
Married couple Nicola Kuperus and Adam Lee Miller both came from art and design backgrounds. Kuperus has an alternate career in fashion-based photography, and its sexy yet sterile themes inform ADULT.'s cold sounds and her deadpan vocals. Miller (also a painter) moved from playing in punk rock bands to synth-pop and programming beats under various pseudonyms. ADULT.'s tracks retain the edginess of his the dance floor production experience. Throwing around globular, chunky 808 beats, topped with Kuperus' dry-processed vox, these two come off as somewhat confrontational to the audience, while simultaneously causing listeners to contort their bodies to the rhythm. Bands such as '80s minimal techno-pop artist the Normal (with their car-crash fetish anthem "Warm Leatherette") or even "synthesizers-only" punk group the Screamers influence ADULT. With this added bite to their jiggly beats, it's no wonder the duo disassociates themselves from the neo-electro clique of soft hangers-on and poseurs.
On their new full-length, Anxiety Always, the songs often deal with alienation, phobias and obsessions. Slapping those themes over a driving dance beat and making it work isn't easy, but ADULT. pulls it off in spades. The duo's artificial put-ons don't detract one iota from their power to move people on the floor. In fact, look for live bass play by Miller, and true rock-band interactivity with the audience, which should warm things up a few degrees from the brittle ice of ADULT.'s earlier singles.
Opener Magas, aka James Marlon Magas, comes from Chicago iconoclasts Couch and no-wave group Lake of Dracula, his clashing beats and dark, nasty vocals going for an update to the nihilistic growl of Alan Vega and Suicide. Nightlight's throwing a warm-up listening party on Monday evening, so you can ready yourself. Don't miss this beat connection.
ADULT. performs with Magas at Go! Studios, Tuesday, April 29.