Why Bother? (Thrill Jockey) is reminiscent of Roman Polanski’s Repulsion, in which Catherine Deneuve’s quick trip from ennui to psychosis is documented to dreary-yet-exhilarating effect. Adam Lee Miller and Nicola Kuperus, otherwise known as Adult., festoon their new CD with horror’s trappings.
In the liner notes, there’s a photo of Miller wearing a butcher’s apron as he and Kuperus stand under a row of dangling sickles. Meanwhile, Kuperus’ vocals seem not to emerge from a living organism.
“The Importance of Being Folk (Part 1),” with its repeated drone of “It’s passed on and on,” evokes spirits of tradition dragging us back to a primordial point of origin. Look closely at the lyrics, though, and you’ll be struck by the prosaic concerns that fuel this horror. Luckily, the band is adept at walking the line between punk rock and electronic ambiance, and the line between existential and nihilistic.
Though the bass and synth sound like Depeche Mode or Skinny Puppy, the momentum resembles the Stooges or early Siouxsie and the Banshees. Adult. transcends these influences to come up with something less distinctly retro. Why Bother? doesn’t revolutionize anything, but it does hold many surprises in the delirious swirl of its horror show.