Adult.: Why Bother?

Lester Feder

An aptly titled new electronica album from the Detroit duo, Adult.


Why Bother?

Label: Thrill Jockey
US Release Date: 2007-03-20
UK Release Date: 2007-03-19

Anticipating that listeners might have a negative reaction to their fourth album, Adult. released an explanatory letter arguing why "you should care" about a collection they describe as "uneasy listening music for uneasy times" electronica. This husband-and-wife Detroit duo assert their album is a kind of "folk music" where "folk" means both "a culture content to operate 'outside'" and "the place where we are most at ease." Yet they also want this album to convey a paranoid landscape in which "we feel the pack is always coming, coming to misdeed,... [that] leads to our continual unease."

How can an album both capture the place where we are most at ease and also represent continual disease? If there's a solution to this aesthetic challenge, Adult. hasn't found it. Sadly, this collection of warmed-over rhythm tracks, low-fi sci-fi sound effects and screechy vocals left me more irritated than unsettled. By the third track based on the same formula, I felt like I was trapped in a post-apocalyptic Legend of Zelda. I'm no big video game fan, but I was jonesing for a game controller, if only to give me something to break up Adult.'s musical monotony.

Maybe it's just me, but ugly and dissonant soundscapes only capture a feeling of social alienation if they contain enough of a human element to draw me in. Two songs were moderately engaging on that level. "You Don't Worry Enough"'s danceable rhythm track and recognizeable punk song structure is a nice break from the rest of the album's formless noise. And Why Bother?'s minimalist closing track, "Harvest," built around a repeating pair of ringing tones suggests nature's struggle to hang on after technology has destroyed the wilderness, like the kind of song whales might sing in The Matrix. But these songs don't save the album. I wouldn't bother, if I were you.


Cover down, pray through: Bob Dylan's underrated, misunderstood "gospel years" are meticulously examined in this welcome new installment of his Bootleg series.

"How long can I listen to the lies of prejudice?
How long can I stay drunk on fear out in the wilderness?"
-- Bob Dylan, "When He Returns," 1979

Bob Dylan's career has been full of unpredictable left turns that have left fans confused, enthralled, enraged – sometimes all at once. At the 1965 Newport Folk Festival – accompanied by a pickup band featuring Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper – he performed his first electric set, upsetting his folk base. His 1970 album Self Portrait is full of jazzy crooning and head-scratching covers. In 1978, his self-directed, four-hour film Renaldo and Clara was released, combining concert footage with surreal, often tedious dramatic scenes. Dylan seemed to thrive on testing the patience of his fans.

Keep reading... Show less

Inane Political Discourse, or, Alan Partridge's Parody Politics

Publicity photo of Steve Coogan courtesy of Sky Consumer Comms

That the political class now finds itself relegated to accidental Alan Partridge territory along the with rest of the twits and twats that comprise English popular culture is meaningful, to say the least.

"I evolve, I don't…revolve."
-- Alan Partridge

Alan Partridge began as a gleeful media parody in the early '90s but thanks to Brexit he has evolved into a political one. In print and online, the hopelessly awkward radio DJ from Norwich, England, is used as an emblem for incompetent leadership and code word for inane political discourse.

Keep reading... Show less

The show is called Crazy Ex-Girlfriend largely because it spends time dismantling the structure that finds it easier to write women off as "crazy" than to offer them help or understanding.

In the latest episode of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, the CW networks' highly acclaimed musical drama, the shows protagonist, Rebecca Bunch (Rachel Bloom), is at an all time low. Within the course of five episodes she has been left at the altar, cruelly lashed out at her friends, abandoned a promising new relationship, walked out of her job, had her murky mental health history exposed, slept with her ex boyfriend's ill father, and been forced to retreat to her notoriously prickly mother's (Tovah Feldshuh) uncaring guardianship. It's to the show's credit that none of this feels remotely ridiculous or emotionally manipulative.

Keep reading... Show less

To be a migrant worker in America is to relearn the basic skills of living. Imagine doing that in your 60s and 70s, when you thought you'd be retired.

Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century

Publisher: W. W. Norton
Author: Jessica Bruder
Publication date: 2017-09

There's been much hand-wringing over the state of the American economy in recent years. After the 2008 financial crisis upended middle-class families, we now live with regular media reports of recovery and growth -- as well as rising inequality and decreased social mobility. We ponder what kind of future we're creating for our children, while generally failing to consider who has already fallen between the gaps.

Keep reading... Show less

Gallagher's work often suffers unfairly beside famous husband's Raymond Carver. The Man from Kinvara should permanently remedy this.

Many years ago—it had to be 1989—my sister and I attended a poetry reading given by Tess Gallagher at California State University, Northridge's Little Playhouse. We were students, new to California and poetry. My sister had a paperback copy of Raymond Carver's Cathedral, which we'd both read with youthful admiration. We knew vaguely that he'd died, but didn't really understand the full force of his fame or talent until we unwittingly went to see his widow read.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.