I remember once in high school talking to an older cousin's 23-year-old girlfriend who had been dragged to the holiday dinner convocation at our house. She was as bored with the family gathering as I was and when she asked what kind of music I was into, I gleefully showed her my tape case, willing to endure the shame of explaining my oddball New Wave music in the name of solidarity. She thumbed through them, saying the predictable "I've never heard any of this" but shocked me when she put my Cabaret Voltaire The Arm of the Lord tape in my crappy stereo so she could hear it. She seemed quizzically pleased when the sampled voices and grunts of "Warm" kicked in and asked why I liked this music. I told her my friends and I liked to pile into Scott's car (the only one with a working tape deck) and blast this alien music, freaking people out in the mall parking lot. It was at that moment that it first struck me how actually lame that was, but she nodded saying her and her friends would do the same thing with Van Halen. It was like a sad little after-school special, where I learned we were all different, but underneath it all, we're all the same.
This all came rushing back to me when I popped in the new EP from Adult. (don't forget the period.) D.U.M.E sounds all the world like a deconstructed jagged-edged smoothie made from my old tape case: the electric buzzer beats of Caberet Voltaire, the hollering banshee vocals of Souxsie and early Xmal Deutschland (before they got all 4AD Cocteau Twins-y), that echo chamber Bauhaus unleashed on the world with "Bela Lugosi's Dead." I was certain that this angry synth-trash was as doomed to the dustbin as hair metal, but shit, we have The Darkness, so I'm glad to have Adult. around to balance things out. There is a Suicide silicon rock quality to the songs that at first are off-putting, but sucker you in. I'll admit that I am not well-versed in the current trend of "electroclash" of which I'm not sure this is a participant, but I get it. Its that buzzer rock that is unrelenting under the unignorable holler.
The songs kind of run together for me, but in a good way, the way the classic albums of this genre the first time around went, the way the phalanx of Wax Trax would invade you from the DJ booth. "Hold Your Breath" sets the motor in motion with its Geiger counter pulse and crash of synths creating a rickety framework for the vocals, while the title track has that woozy David J bass line that portrays a stylish brand of menace. The one that stood out for me is the more experimental "Hairing Impaired" which blend many elements commonly found on Throbbing Gristle's DOA, the pinnacle of the original era of icy punk. This album measures up well against the other electroclash I've heard in that it manages to capture the spirit of the original while having an edge all its own. And having that edge is what its all about anyway.
Alex V. Cook listens to everything and writes about most of it. His latest book, the snappily titled Louisiana Saturday Night: Looking for a Good Time in South Louisiana's Juke Joints, Honky-Tonks, and Dance Halls is an odyssey from the backwoods bars and small-town dives to the swampside dance halls and converted clapboard barns of a Louisiana Saturday Night. Don't leave Heathrow without it. His first book Darkness Racket and Twang is available from SideCartel. The full effect can be had at alex v cook.com
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