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Thrill Jockey

It’s hard to listen to Gimmie Trouble, the first would-be punk LP from Detroit-based electroclashers Adult., without thinking of the Michigan band that pretty much invented the genre: the Stooges. Raw Power, Iggy & Co.’s last, nastiest, and arguably best record, includes the seething “Gimme Danger,” an existential examination of proto-goth romance: “Gimme danger little stranger/And I feel your disease.” Overblown, yes, but at once haunting and believable. The very problem with Gimmie Trouble is that it is too often neither. Adult. is consciously trying to escape the dance floor, and the band brings a modus operandi to Trouble that makes sense for this mission—at least in the abstract. Singer/instrumentalist Nicola Kuperus and instrumentalist/husband Adam Lee Miller have made live guitarist Samuel Consiglio a full-fledged Adult., and he brings an organic element to the band that is less disco ball, more Marshall stack. Gone are the endless four-on-the-floor MIDI extravaganzas of the group’s earlier efforts; the longest viciously undanceable track on Trouble (perhaps appropriately titled “Disappoint the Youth”) clocks in at just over four minutes. Adult.’s difficulty is not its decision to do something different, or even the methods it has chosen, but rather the ultimately mediocre results of the experiment. Once a fascinating reimagination of the Eurythmics for the electronic underground, the band has devolved into a forced fusion of the Contortions and the B-52’s. Trouble’s title track is a catchy bit of No Wave Kuperus channeling both Lydia Lunch and Cyndi Lauper, and most of the other songs pinch the No New York vibe to passable—but not remarkable—results. The freaky fake horns and They Might Be Giants–esque vocals on “Helen Bach” and the sonic Noh dramatics of “Thought I Choked” are interesting steps forward, but not enough to hold your attention for 38 minutes. It’s depressing to demand more of the same from an artist, but the former masters of the slinky club anthem are best when retreading old ground. On “Scare Up the Birds,” one of Trouble’s more electro cuts, Kuperus declares, “It’s coming my way…all the way.” This is where the record is the most fun, most dangerous, and least, well…troublesome: It’s where Adult. is fully in charge of its destiny, even if it’s an old one. —Justin Moyer