Wednesday, May 9, 2001

Daft new romantics

Posted By on Wed, May 9, 2001 at 12:00 AM

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They say the future’s electric, but for Detroit electronic duo Adult., that future’s old news. Composed of vocalist-musician-photographer Nicola Kuperus and musician Adam Lee Miller, Adult. has already released a handful of intriguing neo-New Romantic electropop EPs that delineate discordant psychological scenarios while integrating the politics of dancing.

Combining sincere appreciation (and understanding) with a witty reappraisal of synthpop forms, Adult. actually creates the kind of music in the present day that, circa 1980, we imagined we’d be enjoying in 2001. With the gift of 20/20 hindsight, Adult. exploits the icy electronic pop trademarks of such precursors as the Normal (of “Warm Leatherette” infamy), the Flying Lizards, and Chris and Cosey, as well as sundry New Romantics. Their robotic vocals, ostinato synth sequences and vintage drum-machine syncopation project a chilly world, an emotional dystopia filled with accusations and fears. “Nausea/You don’t even know how I feel” is the complete lyric to “Nausea,” passionlessly recited by Kuperus atop a bed of homemade, budget-bin yet efficient Moroder-esque electro-disco.

Kuperus’ photography, which adorns the compact disc package, provides the perfect complement to the uneasy tones contained within. Both sound and image reside in a jagged intersection, wherein Helmut Newton meets Alain Robbe-Grillet, wherein lust becomes sublimated into mechanical motion. The dark humor of Adult. manipulates expectations, turning alienation into absurd, silent laughter and the imagination of emotional disaster into dance beats.

Resuscitation brings back from the record bins of history a significant portion of Adult.’s work since its inception three years ago. It’s not all just Cronenbergian retrofuturist paranoia, however. “Minors at Nite” captures the giddiness of curfew transgressions that just might have you recalling any time you sneaked out to go to the dance club. There’s a duo of desperate synthpop instrumentals too, including the closing “Private Conversation,” a track dating back to the duo’s days as Plasma Co. Even a completist Ersatz Audiophile will keep busy with the exclusive remixes that can only be found on this disc. And for those who are novices in the world of Adult. entertainment, just remember: The period is silent, the laughter is silent (silenced?) and dancing is allowed.

E-mail Greg Baise at letters@metrotimes.com.

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