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This Behavior Noel Gardner , September 10th, 2018 10:35

They are electroclash veterans, yes, and so much much much more

Some musicians are so overwhelmingly associated with a specific era that, when discussing work created by them long after that era has passed, you know there’ll be no getting through to some people. I understand their thinking: quick-fix flashes of fun, bedhopping from scene to scene, ruthless ghosting as soon as a movement threatens to get stale in favour of the anointed New Thing. Couldn’t hear all the good music out there if we lived to a thousand, anyway. If this is you, and you’re old enough to remember Detroit electropunk duo Adult. at their fashionable zenith in the early 2000s, then you presumably won’t be amped for This Behavior, their seventh studio album. But this is your loss, as it’s another pinpoint smash from a consistently great and striking band who’ve never lost their hardcore.

They’ve never changed their sound too severely, either, although amid ten songs that offer a coldly familiar volley of dogmatic, scornful, echo-streaked vocals (by Nicola Kuperus) and strafing, EBM-influenced rhythms (devised by Kuperus and partner Adam Lee Miller), there are – by Adult. standards – unusually soft-edged or pop-centred moments. ‘Silent Exchange’ is one, a slow-dancer of great melancholy with an Ultravox-like crystal synth part and pliant drums. ‘Does The Body Know?’ is another – recognisably Adult. for sure, especially that Morse-tapping Aux 88-style bleep undercarriage, but the euphoric keyboard melody could have graced New Order’s Technique, and Kuperus’ more wistful vocal approach here bolsters that feel.

Then again, there are a raft of textbook Adult. bangers during these 39 minutes, because while lots of acts are palpably inspired by Model 500 or Tuxedomoon or DMX Krew or the Throbbing Gristle of, say, ‘Persuasion’, only Kuperus and Miller sound like this. (There’ve been a lot of worthwhile names coming through in the last few years who could reasonably called ‘post-Adult.’; three of them – Youth Code, Wetware and High-Functioning Flesh – are now their labelmates on Dais Records.) Programming might be minimal, clipped, direct, but you always feel that on a proper club system, things like ‘Violent Shakes’ and the thought-hauntingly titled ‘Lick Out The Content’ would rearrange your head – while anyone who’s thrilled to the latest, excellent Helena Hauff album ought to make a beeline for the redlined techno stomp of ‘Irregular Pleasure’.

As I say, you might associate Adult. with the flighty fancies of the early millennium, their enduring crossover hit ‘Hand To Phone’ and the subgenre-cum-snarkers’ punchline that is/was electroclash (the duo had a slightly more complex relationship with it than that, but time makes fools of us all). And you might shun these ultra-stylised old-timers, even or especially as their 20th birthday approaches, perhaps in favour of those aforementioned younger models. But This Behavior jitters with energy and swells with smart touches, and if Kuperus and Miller are still as dedicated as this album indicates, then maybe they don’t need you rubes anyhow.