Anxiety Always (Ersatz Audio)

Malibu's Most Wanted
Detroit's Adult -- Nicoloa Kuperus and Adam Lee Miller -- has been plying its driving synth rock for six years. The duo's determination has been rewarded: The zeitgeist finally has come around to welcoming Adult's chilly evocations of post-industrial electro, for which its hometown provides the ideal backdrop. Kuperus's detached monotone is an understandable reaction to the Motor City's bombed-out landscapes and economic depression, yet she retains a stoic glamour amid the grimness. Miller's sleek, new-wave/techno hybrid encourages putting pedal to metal and maybe even shaking a butt cheek or two, while his raw, chugging bass lines are as filthy at times as Geezer Butler's.

But to those aware of late-'70s new wave, early '80s synth pop, and Detroit's first techno twitchings, Anxiety Always may have an overly familiar ping to it. The duo's reliance on stiff rhythms, quaint drum-machine beats, neurotically uptight if tuneful arrangements, and rote alienation may seem too much in thrall to Tubeway Army, Fad Gadget, and the Normal. We need a different kind of tension, as the Buzzcocks presciently noted 24 years ago. One wonders whether Adult has earned its neuroses -- or is just wearing them as fashion accessories.

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