As Adult., husband-and-wife duo Adam Lee Miller and Nicola Kuperus channel the existential anxiety of the late 20th and early 21st centuries into music and visuals that are sometimes humorous, sometimes experimental, but are first and foremost dark. As the electro-techno forays of their early EPs and 2001 album Resuscitation expanded to include elements of punk, darkwave, industrial, and noise on later releases such as 2003's Anxiety Always and 2007's Why Bother?, the foundations of their music — serrated synths and beats paired with Kuperus' piercing sneer — remained. The duo's scope grew even wider as the years passed, encompassing ambitious projects that reflected their art school roots, such as a trilogy of horror movies and 2017's collaborative album Detroit House Guests, as well as leaner, more danceable fare like 2013's The Way Things Fall and 2018's This Behavior.
Prior to forming Adult., Miller founded the electro-techno label Ersatz Audio in 1995, and issued releases from projects including Artificial Material and Le Car, a duo that also included Ian Clark. Miller began working with Kuperus in 1998 and first recorded together as Plasma Co. for an obscure 12", "Modern Romantics." Later that year, they renamed themselves Adult., and debuted the project with the Dispassionate Furniture EP that November. Over the next few years, they issued EPs that included 1999's Entertainment and 2000's New Phonies, a release for the Dutch label Clone that introduced Kuperus' foreboding style of photography, which became a celebrated staple of Adult. releases. After another 12" EP, Nausea, and a compilation appearance on The Forgotten Sounds of Tomorrow ("Silent Property," "Human Wreck"), Ersatz Audio released Adult.'s debut album, Resuscitation, in 2001. Though most of its songs were culled from previous releases, primarily the 12" EPs, many were versions or mixes exclusive to the album.
By this point, Adult. were renowned within the techno underground, while their live performances — which included a memorable gig at the inaugural Detroit Electronic Music Festival — helped them reach a growing audience. In 2002, the duo released a remix EP, Misinterpreted, and a 7" single, "Limited Edition," ahead of their second album, 2003's Anxiety Always, which added guitar and bass to Adult.'s synth-based sound. Miller and Kuperus promoted Anxiety Always with tours of Europe and the U.S. throughout 2003 before withdrawing from the spotlight for much of 2004. When Adult. returned, the group was a trio featuring guitarist Samuel Consiglio. The new lineup made its debut on the Chicago label Thrill Jockey in 2005 with the D.U.M.E. EP and full-length Gimmie Trouble, both of which emphasized the rock aspects of the band's music. After touring in support of Gimmie Trouble, Miller and Kuperus took some time off before resurfacing in 2007 with another Thrill Jockey release, Why Bother?, a noisy set that returned the band to duo status. After playing shows around the globe and issuing a trio of limited-edition singles known as the Decampment series, Kuperus and Miller released the Let's Feel Bad Together EP in 2008.
Adult. then took a lengthy break from recording, during which they made a trilogy of horror films, The Three Grace(s) Triptych; renovated a historic commercial property in Detroit; and worked on other visual art projects. By 2012, Adult. were ready to record and play again, and issued the "Cover(s)" single via Ghostly late that year. The duo's fifth, and arguably most accessible, album, The Way Things Fall, appeared on the label in May 2013. Later that year, they released the "Work/Wreck" 12", the first Ersatz Audio release in five years. After receiving a John S. and James L. Knight Foundation grant in 2014, Adult. achieved a long-held dream of hosting artists in residency. The duo invited Nitzer Ebb's Douglas J. McCarthy, Swans' Michael Gira, and Light Asylum's Shannon Funchess, among others, to live and collaborate with them for several weeks. The results were Detroit House Guests, which Mute released in March 2017. Later that year, the duo's first live album, Live at Third Man Records, and an EP of Detroit House Guests remixes arrived. The following September, Adult. made their Dais Records debut with This Behavior, a set of hard-edged, danceable tracks recorded while the duo was sequestered in a Northern Michigan cabin in the winter. ~ Heather Phares & Jason Birchmeier