Music Reviews
Anxiety Always

ADULT. Anxiety Always

(Ersatz Audio) Buy it from Insound Rating - 6/10

After the excellent Resuscitation album, ADULT. have resurfaced with a soundtrack for alienated metropoles to play before they go out on some kind of kill-crazy rampage. Those looking for another Nausea or Hand to Phone will be disappointed, however, as there are no tracks on the album that stand alone with the strength of those earlier singles, and the direction of the group often veers closer to three-chord electronic punk than previous releases without ever losing its dance element entirely (allowing the discerning clubber the choice: pogo or pose?)

Their description of the album as dance punk music for the mutants is given credence by tracks such as Glue Your Eyelids Together, which in structure and subject matter is reminiscent of an electronically enhanced Ramones fronted by Kathleen Hanna. Indeed, aside from the obvious influence of earlier punk, the whole album reminds me of nothing more than an electro Bikini Kill, albeit with a more detached, less overtly emotional delivery. Many of the songs exist on the cusp of madness, giving the impression that everything could spiral out of control at any given moment, with the structure barely able to contain the gradually intensifying mania whilst never losing control.

The album works better when listened to as a whole, whereby you can allow yourself to be interpolated into its paranoid perspective.

Marks must be deducted, however, for the decision to include one different bonus track on each format, a strategy that Ersatz Audio has similarly employed for the new Magas album, and which will do little to endear them to even their most fervent admirers. Whilst I haven't heard Foot-in-Mouth Disease (the extra LP track), the excellent CD bonus track (The Cold Call) works well in introducing the album and immersing you slowly into its atmosphere, which paves the way for the unforgiving drive of Shake Your Head, the playfully distant Blank Eyed, Nose Bleed and the suitably disorientating People, You Can Confuse to make their mark.

Despite the lack of really outstanding tracks, the overall quality is fairly high and there is little filler on the album. However, if you were trying to convince someone that We Know How to Have Fun, playing them a song which would pass as a death march if it had a jauntier tune (or any tune at all, for that matter) might not be the best idea, and Nothing of the Kind provides little that isn't available on some of the other tracks despite a fantastic stalking synth motif at the beginning. Also, the calculated refusal to comfort the listener, which is one of ADULT.'s most appealing characteristics on the better tracks, becomes a weakness when you are confronted by tracks on the album with so little direction or willingness to provide the listener with an easy experience that they simply leave you cold. However, with the OTT majesty of Nervous (Wreck) and the luxuriant ebb and flow of Kick in the Shin (wherein Nicola Kuperus' vocals are delivered with charming nonchalance), ADULT. provide welcome mutations that stop the album from falling into a formulaic slump.

Overall, those who look for some kind of soft, hazy glow/aural hug/We are the World feeling from their music will get little from Anxiety Always, and if you're feeling tender you might be better off anaesthetising yourself with that nice David Gray LP and a mogodon milkshake. As with the punk aesthetic and the waves of electronic music that superseded it, this is music to strangle hippies to and it's all the better for it. Newcomers seeking an introduction to El*ctr*cl*sh might be better advised to pick up an International Gigolo Dee-Jays album or the appallingly named This is not the 80s compilation, rather than diving in at the deep end with ADULT., but the converted will find that, beyond the lack of immediate stand-alone tracks, the ADULT. worldview remains as individual and uncompromising as ever.