Detroit Dance-Punk Duo ADULT. Deliver the Goods with Exhilarating New Record 'This Behavior'

Dark, dangerous, and wrapped in anarchic black leather, ADULT. return with a stunning record that matches the feverish spirit of 2003's Anxiety Always.

This Behavior


7 September 2018

Over the past decade, "ruin porn" and a lurid fascination with urban decay have fueled Detroit's growing tourism industry. The birthplace of Motown and techno found itself a poster child for the failures of American capitalism. In the recent wake of the largest municipal bankruptcy in US history, that sullied reputation is shifting, and this once industrial giant is slowly roaring back to life as a culturally vibrant destination for theater, art, and music. The ghostly wreckage that surrounds the city's recent revitalization though continues to serve as a cautionary tale for other metropolitan areas across the country, that you could be next.

Austrian writer Ernst Fischer once wrote, "In a decaying society, art, if it is truthful, must also reflect decay," and the beauty of Detroit's disintegration and its rebirth continue to serve as an endless source of inspiration for artists and writers who call Motor City home, like Nicola Kuperus and Adam Lee Miller. Known collectively as ADULT., this talented husband and wife duo dropped their five-song 12" EP Dispassionate Furniture 20 years ago. Today they continue to churn out unhinged, paranoia-tinged dance-punk that endures, even as their late '90s, electroclash peers have mostly fallen out of memory. Six albums and a walloping 19 EPs and singles later, they have dropped one of the best records of their career with the stellar This Behavior.

Previous recordings had flaunted all the spiky synths and skull-bashing, buzzy bass lines associated with the couple's sound, but the mischievous tone of their early material had given way to an altogether more menacing vibe by the time Why Bother? arrived. The emphasis on brooding atmosphere over "traditional" song structure reached an all-time high with last year's esoteric album Detroit House Guests. Save for the spasmodic "We Chase the Sound" with Light Asylum's Shannon Funchess, this quirky record felt as if its sole purpose was to nourish the duo's experimental whims, more than to feed the desires of their fanbase. On This Behavior, the dancefloor-centric vibe harkens back to the feverish spirit of 2003's Anxiety Always.

The album kicks off with a pounding, clubbish beat and the sounds of a skittish drum machine, as Nicola rails against the inane behavior of her fellow (wo)man, with an almost tribal delivery, one that evokes Native American war chants. The title track is followed by an everything but the kitchen sink approach of "Violent Shakes", which comes off like what an ADULT. and Basement Jaxx collaboration might sound like. That frenzied feel of a bustling city disappears for a while, but returns midway through the record with "On the Edge". It is as if all three tracks were composed as the soundtrack for a scene from an imaginary film, in which a crowd of passing commuters suddenly find themselves jammed tightly together in a claustrophobic subway car.

Third track "Silent Exchange" drifts by at an elegant funereal pace, almost unnoticeable, like the couple in the song whose relationship has drifted away from them. Pulsating first single, "Perversions of Humankind", is a soaring highlight with a chorus uncannily reminiscent of Pink Floyd's "Another Brick in the Wall (Part II)". However, it's the jittery, acid techno track "Everything & Nothing", the post-punk paean "Does the Body Know" and the delightfully chaotic "Lick Out the Content", that sees Kuperus and Miller at the top of their game. The record concludes with "In All the Debris", an eerie, splintered, wintry composition that could have been lifted from a sinister, 1970s Giallo film. Nicola seems caught in a trance, uttering the numbing mantra, "Why do we go on so long / Why do we so long go on…" as twinkly, arpeggiated synths waft by and taper off into silence.

The Latin words "Speramus meliora; resurgent cineribus," ("We hope for better things; it shall arise from the ashes.") are inscribed on the flag of the city of Detroit. An urban empire once on the brink of disappearing into the ether is now gradually being resurrected from the dead. Great cities are only as remarkable as the artists within them, and the musical legacy of the town has survived even when the buildings around it crumbled. From MC5 to Aretha Franklin, Jeff Mills to Stevie Wonder, there have been many remarkable artists to come out of Motor City. ADULT. deserve to be mentioned in the same light. Twenty years in, they continue to capture the thorny sides of human behavior like no one else out there, and their acerbic wit and disorienting sound is still dark, dangerous, and wrapped in anarchic black leather, but served with a knowing wink and a wry grin.






'Indian Sun: The Life and Music of Ravi Shankar' (excerpt)

Ravi Shankar was bemused by the Beatles, Rolling Stones, the Yardbirds and other bands using the sitar in rock music. Enjoy this excerpt of Indian Sun, by Oliver Craske (who worked with Shankar on his 1997 autobiography), courtesy of Hachette Books.

Oliver Craske

The Strokes Phone It In (Again) on 'The New Abnormal'

The Strokes' The New Abnormal is an unabashedly uninspired promotional item for their upcoming world tour.


"I'm an Audience Member, Playing This Music for Us": An Interview With Keller Williams

Veteran musician Keller Williams discusses his special relationship with the Keels, their third album together, Speed, and what he learned from following the Grateful Dead.


Shintaro Kago's 'Dementia 21' Showcases Surrealist Manga

As much as I admire Shintaro Kago's oddness as a writer, his artistic pen is even sharper (but not without problems) as evident in Dementia 21.


Adrian Younge and Ali Shaheed Muhammad Proclaim 'Jazz Is Dead!' Long Live Jazz!

Adrian Younge and Ali Shaheed Muhammad bring their live collaborative efforts with jazz veterans to recorded life with Jazz Is Dead 001, a taste of more music to come.


"I'll See You Later": Repetition and Time in Almodóvar's 'All About My Mother'

There are mythical moments in Almodóvar's All About My Mother. We are meant to register repetition in the story as something wonderfully strange, a connection across the chasm of impossibility.


Electropop's CMON Feel the Noise on 'Confusing Mix of Nations'

Pop duo CMON mix and match contemporary and retro influences to craft the dark dance-pop on Confusing Mix of Nations.


'Harmony' Is About As Bill Frisell As a Bill Frisell Recording Can Be

Bill Frisell's debut on Blue Note Records is a gentle recording featuring a few oddball gems, particularly when he digs into the standard repertoire with Petra Haden's voice out front.


The 50 Best Post-Punk Albums Ever: Part 4, James Chance to the Pop Group

This week we are celebrating the best post-punk albums of all-time and today we have part four with Talking Heads, the Fall, Devo and more.


Raye Zaragoza's "Fight Like a Girl" Shatters the Idea of What Women Can and Can't Do (premiere)

Singer-songwriter and activist Raye Zaragoza's new single, "Fight Like a Girl", is an empowering anthem for intersectional feminism, encouraging resilience amongst all women.


VickiKristinaBarcelona Celebrate Tom Waits on "I Don't Wanna Grow Up" (premiere)

VickiKristinaBarcelona celebrate the singular world of Tom Waits their upcoming debut, Pawn Shop Radio. Hear "I Don't Wanna Grow Up" ahead of tomorrow's single release.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.