Anxiety Always

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Kicked shins, punched chins, glued eyelids, bloody noses, and the attendant fraught nerves -- Adult.'s lyrical themes have changed somewhat, but only somewhat, on their first proper album. What goes for the lyrics also goes for the music; they're still making paranoid dance-punk that has more to do with Fad Gadget than being an actual fad gadget, but there are enough alterations to ward off any notion that this duo is spinning its wheels. In that sense, they have managed to stay the same while changing at the same time -- that tricky maneuver that most artists are unable to pull off under the pressure of expectations. As impressive as that is, what truly matters is that Anxiety Always is Adult. firing on every cylinder. Not only does it hold the duo's most sleek and vicious material, it also proves that they can construct a bracing, compulsively digestible-in-whole album that presents the broad range of sounds and complementary sequencing that most great albums require. On "Turn Your Back," buzzsaw guitars and a rattling bassline bolster Adam Le Miller's typically brittle but adroit rivet-gun drum programming. Nicola Kuperus' breathless, rapid-fire delivery -- including a hectoring "neh neh neh" -- rattles off a list of situations and lifestyle hazards that cause hypertension, from a siren to a full parking lot to a corporate job. The closing "Kick in the Shin" puts a cap on the record while also functioning as its climax, with racing synth patterns and a start-stop-stutter rhythmic thrust. Here, Kuperus' voice takes an assured singsongy tone that she'd do well to utilize more often. Adult., a duo that previously appeared to be created for the kind of transient jolt provided by the 12" format, can take pride in the fact that they made one of the most electrifying albums of 2003.

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