Wednesday 20 May 2020

Retro Reviews: ADULT. - Resuscitation

Keeping things slightly electroclash as I cover another album from days gone by in my collection. There was a time not too long ago where I finally took proper deep dive into ADULT., I'd had a couple of their tracks in circulation but every time I'd tried to properly dip my toe in I remember not super digging what I'd found. Turns out I was just looking at the wrong end of their releases and the early work is supremely up my alley. Like so many artists and genres out there it can be difficult to know that though, and that's where I come in (As this post was what I had in mind when I started this series!).

Let's get into it then, allow me to introduce you to ADULT., a duo hailing from Detroit and consisting of Adam Lee Miller and Nicola Kuperus, today we'll be talking about their 2001 release; Resuscitation.

Resuscitation is an ideal starting point if you are new to ADULT. It's *technically* not an album, instead being a compilation of bits and pieces of their releases until then, with some alternate mixes put in here and there which makes sense given the title. The reason I think it's an ideal starter is that all the components that make ADULT.'s aesthetic are there, from the slightly surreal photography of band member Nicola Kuperus' that adorns almost all their releases, to the skeletal electro of the opening track Lost Love. While I do love Kuperus' photography I must say that I do think sometimes it doesn't fit the sound of their releases, but it does certainly give them a distinctive aesthetic that is incredibly evocative of Electroclash as a whole (as much as the band themselves dislike that term being applied to them), that slightly seedy high life vibe a la Kittenz & Thee Glitz from the same year.

It's not long before we hit a highlight though, Lost Love might've been a solid demonstration of the vibe ADULT. are going for, but for me Hand To Phone and all it's variants is one of the best things they've done. I'm no stranger to this one, it's been kicking around my library since the mid 00's and I have yet to tire of it. For me, this is potentially an even better example of what the band is all about; slightly rough electro all tied together with the slightly treated dry delivery of Nicola. This along with a few other of their productions around this time like the remix of Tuxedomoon's No Tears are the embodiment of that punky Electroclash sound that was around at the time. The only thing I think it's missing is some of Kuperus' more visceral lyrics, but there's plenty to get stuck into on this compilation yet.

A bit of a cop out here as I shamelessly copy/paste some thoughts I had on this one from a republished post not too long ago, but the truth is even if I'd re-typed this it'd just be the same opinion but with different wording, let's throw it over to past me now: The production on Side-Swiped does a fantastic job of complimenting the vocals and creating the dark and slightly unnerving atmosphere, the way the synth effortlessly slides in after the title drop around 1:40 is just fantastic and makes everything feel like it's plunged into slow motion for a second or two.
Back to original thoughts: it's this darker edge that immediately springs to mind for me when discussing ADULT., though I feel that it's not as pronounced on this compilation as others. I chalk it up to me picking up a whole bunch of ADULT. stuff at once when I was first beginning to listen, so all the releases are kind of amalgamated in my head.

There are a couple of instrumentals scattered here and there too, I've skipped over one so far in Mouth To Mouth, which is a lumbering wobbly number full of hoover style synths. Your Lies by contrast is from the same school of sound as Hand To Phone, which tracks as it's on the same EP, New-Phonies. I haven't given adequate praise to Adam Lee Miller's production outside of that brief mention above yet, ADULT. is a duo after all, and what better time to talk production than on an instrumental. Miller's work with ADULT. is remarkably versatile, jumping between bouncy electropop, downtempo electro and the more Punky sound almost effortlessly, and throughout it all does not compromise the overall aesthetic that makes the band. His production work is distinctive and works excellently either on its own, or twinned with Kuperus on the vocals.

A bit of an outlier in terms of sound, Skinlike lacks that darker edge that say Side Swiped had, and you could almost be forgiven for thinking it was an out of character Electropop piece from the duo if you weren't paying attention to Kuperus' decidedly anxious lyrics. This version is a slightly restructured version of the (Nix Mix) that appeared on the Nausea album, aside from the intro and some extra breakdowns there's not too much different, though this version is slightly longer. This revisiting restructuring is present on a few tracks on this compilation (hence the Resuscitation name). I think it's an interesting if slightly strange approach, these aren't really remixes so much as slightly tweaked versions of already existing ones, but as an artist myself I can sympathise with wanting to rework some older pieces and fix little imperfections you spot here and there. There's certainly no George Lucas-level 'remastering' going on here, and at least they are labelled as different mixes to avoid confusion.

I'm aware that despite my obvious love of the vocal side of this compilation, it may not be for everyone. Even if that's the case I would urge you to check out the full compilation, as I mentioned there are a couple of instrumentals and if the vocals aren't for you there is still a lot of brilliant electro to get stuck into. As for the compilation itself I think it's a great 'best of' style collection of the work of ADULT. up until that point, despite being made up of bits and pieces of various EPs and the like it has a real consistency which almost makes me treat it as an album rather than a compilation. That being said I do feel that the first half is stronger than the second, (though the trilogy of Side Swiped, Your Lies and Skinlike towards the end is amazing) but that may be my bias talking as that part of the compilation is made up of two of my favourites of theirs; the New Phonies EP and Nausea.

The compilation is relatively easy to get hold of if you'd like, ADULT. have quite the active online presence and in fact just put out another album this year. Likewise, the label that re-issued this compilation, Ghostly International, is also fairly active so the compilation is super easy to get your hands on: via Bandcamp, directly from Ghostly's site or your digital music vendor of choice. Though do be aware that the while the digital versions have some bonus tracks in the form of additional EP B-Sides, it does omit the instrumental track Private Conversations that was present on the original CD, you may have to do some digging if you want a 'complete' version.

That wraps us up for today, I've been keeping things fairly consistent for a while here but I may begin to slow down a little in the coming weeks, both because I'm finding it a little harder to write but also I think I could space these posts out a little better. Nothing should change beyond it being a little longer before a new post goes up! And as always, stay safe and enjoy the music.


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