After expanding to a trio for Gimmie Trouble, Adult. returned to their classic duo lineup for Why Bother? That doesn't mean that Nicola Kuperus and Adam Lee Miller have abandoned the wilder, noisier sound they explored on their last album, though -- in fact, Why Bother? is even more radical, pairing dead-calm passages with weird and often downright evil-sounding electronics that recall Throbbing Gristle and Wolf Eyes. This direction is most apparent on the album's instrumentals: parts one and two of "The Importance of Being Folk" are expanses of feral, howling analog noise that suggest fallow pastures, rotten orchards, and other eerie landscapes; "Cultivation"'s strafing synths and the atmospheric yet grinding finale, "Harvest," show the duo's dedication to further folding, spindling, and mutilating their sound. Why Bother?'s deconstructed approach also bleeds into the songs that sound more like Adult.'s earlier work. "Good Deeds" and "Herd Me" -- which both offer witty commentary on groupthink -- bristle with rapid-fire beats and Kuperus' snotty, then scary vocals, remaining danceable while flirting with the chaos elsewhere on the album. Kuperus is in especially rare form on "Inclined to Vomit," where she shrieks and bellows lyrics like "you make me disgusted to a painful degree!" with fury, disgust, and dark, dark humor as synths pulse like a migraine behind her. And though there are fewer guitars on Why Bother? than on Gimmie Trouble or D.U.M.E., Adult.'s mix of punk, industrial, and dance sounds more organic and, well, doomier than it did when they had a full-time guitarist, as "Plagued by Fear"'s low-slung riffs and "You Don't Worry Enough"'s fantastic metallic onslaughts demonstrate. They could've easily stuck to the approach that worked so well on their singles and Anxiety Always, but Adult. keeps finding ways to keep their sound vital. Why Bother? offers fierce, fascinating proof that they'll continue discovering life (or afterlife) in music equally informed by dance and punk.
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