Ten years after the release of their (proper) debut, ‘Anxiety Always’, ADULT.’s outlook hasn’t gotten any sunnier. Still wilfully distant, ‘The Way Things Fall’ marks a subtle shift from the angst that pulsed through the previous four LPs without compromising the duo’s aptitude for alienation.

On dead-eyed, cyborg-voiced opener ‘Heartbreak’, Nicola Kuperus’ vocal hits with a metronomic monotony that, alongside the sleeker production, woozy melodies and pop elements, underpin the record’s insular successes. With the aggression taken down, the dissonance is left to linger on the haunting ‘We Will Rest’, rise up on the driving ‘New Frustration’ and play out with disinterest on ‘The End of It All’. But despite its slick new focus, ADULT.’s longevity has never been based on anything but unease and anxiety, and it ensures that ‘The Way Things Fall’ remains a record dehumanised to its mechanical brink. Amidst the gurgling synth lines and clanging industrial slow-clap, Kuperus’ androgynous vocals are always just unnervingly off; the reverb the wrong side of comfortable; the melodies detuned and set to ‘anxiety’.

Charged with the requisite distance, alienation, tension and discomfort, this fifth offering is definitively ADULT. but while it’s far from essential, it’s still fascinating all the same.

More from