With the band including members of Huggy Bear and Male Bonding, it’s hard not to have high expectations for the debut album from Adulkt Life, Book of Curses (What’s Your Rupture?)—especially if you were hoping for a new record from the former after Huggy Bear’s reformation this past year. Fortunately, the record’s 10 songs don’t disappoint.
Repeatedly tapping a vein of sharp-edged vitriol throughout the album’s 25 minutes, the veterans in Adulkt Life reveal that anger isn’t just the purview of the young. Indeed, Chris Rowley (of Huggy Bear) seemingly has his dander up from the get-go. On leadoff “Country Pride,” he intones,“You made a promise,” over a jaunty crisscrossing of bass and guitar lines. But it’s on “JNR Showtime” that he (figuratively) gets in your face as he asks, “Why would you let this shit carry on?” From there the album never lets up, the band gathering strength right before our very eyes/ears. If Rowley was less intelligent or the band more heavy-handed this might fall in line with the current crop of Fontaines DC, Murder Capital, et. al worshipping at Mark E. Smith’s grave. Instead, Book of Curses reminds me of the clamorous inventiveness of McClusky, if only because it checks many of the same synaptic boxes. (If I wasn’t already itching to see some live music, now Adulkt Life has given me a more specific urge.) Indeed, this is catharsis incarnate, and by the time we get to the seventh song, “Room Context,” wherein Rowley shouts, “In your paper-free environment, there are no love letters left,” it’s hard not to feel a little better than when the album began. The record doesn’t stop there, though, and it ends with the prophetic “New Curfew,” where Rowley sings, “I don’t know what to feel when I hear sirens outside anymore.” It’s a fitting finale to a record that, put out in a time when there’s so little joy, capably gives us some needed relief.