Anxiety Always

Adult. stakes its claim to electro authority on an aesthetic built more around heady moods than cloying fashion games. The duo started mining post-human '80s sound waves a few years before "electroclash" became a contentious term, but, legitimacy through longevity being a thing of the past, singer Nicola Kuperus and programmer Adam Lee Miller also pay uncommon attention to the history they dress up and down. From the spurting synth phase that opens "The Cold Call," the duo's Anxiety Always careens through a tight, measured crash course suited both for smooth rides and for nervous swerves. Adult. fetishizes the erotic vacancy of electro's android mind, matching brash blip riffs with icy vocals that sing of "the passion of forgetting names" and issue commands to "glue your eyelids together." Much of the album sounds thin and clangy on first pass, but as its moods congeal, Anxiety Always drinks down a cumulative thickener that oozes through the airy spaces and hardens on contact. "Blank Eyed, Nose Bleed" and "Nothing Of The Kind" lurch and pop like a sort of digitized punk, cycling through gameful violence and showy shove-offs that derive their tension from cramped backing tracks fighting for breath. For all its impressive competency, Anxiety Always remains a bit too oppressively literal in its electro resurrection–a fate that applies less to Idol Tryouts, a compilation from the Ghostly International label. Like Adult.'s Ersatz Audio imprint, Ghostly operates around the mythic electronic playland of Detroit, where electro and techno took on much of their lasting identities. Instead of looking back, though, Idol Tryouts smears the electro template into shapes more modern than nostalgic. With "Making It Pay," Dabrye hits upon a slow, woozy electronic hip-hop gait that sounds more like a subtle composite than observable fusion. Charles Manier ups the tempo to dance-floor speed with the warped synth fits in "At The Bottle," while Matthew Dear and James Cotton sift through shuffling glitch bits that hover like clouds stewing toward lightning. More distanced and meditative than Ghostly International's notable electro manifesto Tangent 2002: Disco Nouveau, Idol Tryouts boasts an inclusive reach that wraps Detroit austerity with Boards Of Canada-like ambience. The results range from striking singularities to simple spells of beauty, but the union of the two sounds unwaveringly strong throughout.

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