Last time out, dark electronic duo ADULT. focused on making connections with a bevy of featured guests, sharing living and working space with each musician for three-week periods while writing and recording the off-kilter and unnerving experimental music found on their 2017 record Detroit House Guests. With their seventh studio album, This Behavior, the husband-and-wife team of Adam Miller and Nicola Kuperus fixate on disconnecting, steeping their latest effort in the heady mix of personal insight and existential despair that isolation—from society, from interpersonal relationships and from the mundane aspects of daily life—can ultimately bring.

The results of such introspection aren’t especially rosy. “Perversions of Humankind” expresses the band’s crushingly bleak and misanthropic ruminations on the nature of existence: “Are we distortions?,” Kuperus asks in her detached monotone. This perversion of humanity could certainly serve as sociopolitical critique given the current state of the world, but Kuperus’ robotic voice—and ominous, cinematic horn blasts befitting a Hans Zimmer score—also give that philosophical question a Philip-K.-Dickian sense of synthetic-reality paranoia. The duo occasionally manifests this angst through the music itself, utilizing whirling, cyclonic kinetics on “Irregular Pleasure” to convey a sense of tumultuous satisfaction in pushing back against the usual order of things.

But ADULT. is also adept at making brooding ruminations intensely danceable. The album’s title track thrums with an infectious darkwave pulse, the droning lyrical repetition of “This behavior/ Human behavior” mirroring the incessantness of our compulsions. The frantic tempos and churning effects of “Everything & Nothing” add discord and tension that’s only heightened by Kuperus’ urgent, nihilistic chants of “Your meaning has no meaning.” The repetition of words and redundancy of images may be a stylistic choice that works more often than not, but it can also occasionally grow tedious. Kuperus describes “reflections of reflections” on “Silent Exchange” amid airy atmospherics, and when not bolstered by the frenetic momentum of more effective tracks, these sentiments begin to feel rote.

ADULT.’s obsession with the disconnect between mind and body—how what we think and what we do can so vastly differ, and how this relates to destructive behaviors and tendencies—is spelled out most explicitly on the up tempo “Does the Body Know?,” as Kuperus invokes disorienting perceptual imagery before singing “We are out of order/ We are undefined.” If the band belabors these thematic points, it does so from a sonically compelling standpoint. More musically-grounded here than their experimental forays on Detroit House Guests, ADULT. nevertheless compiles perhaps the most cohesive thematic statement of their 20-year career through 10 eclectic tracks that keep the listener off-balance.

Running an electronic-music spectrum from moments of atmospheric minimalism to robust dance-floor bangers to the thumping industrial bent of tracks like “On the Edge (You Put Me),” This Behavior adroitly addresses twenty-first century anxieties without resorting to trite, well-worn sentiments about social media or smartphone addiction in a technology-obsessed society. Instead, Miller and Kuperus use infectious electronic music, Kuperus’ detached vocal cadence and bleak, dystopic-tinged lyricism to convey a sense that, if we stop to really look at ourselves, we’re not going to like what we see. \

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