21 Mar 2023

Remember Me? | Join | Recover
Click here to sign in via social networking

Adult Friends - Single Review: Brittle

12 Dec 2022 // A review by Nicholas Clark

In the contemporary music industry, there continues to be a use for genres to categorize products for easier consumption and describe artists for potential customers. True artists, pioneers if you will, often reside at the periphery of the conventions expected of them. Theirs is a process of expression rather than emulation.

Such is the case with Wellington’s Adult Friends, who possess the ability to explode into frantic energy, or burble menacingly ready to pounce. They play with elements of ambience to build tension, and with unusual song structures and complex drum patterns that make measures even harder to grasp, the potential for the onslaught at any second is all the more unpredictable… Having already seen the band live a number of times, I know they can bring a staggering amount of chaos to their shows, full of swinging guitars, brutal screaming, shockingly fast drumming and sounds unheard of in the punk scene before. But they are also capable of establishing the cool, detached atmosphere you might find on a Joy Division record.

Such is the case with their new single, Brittle a word that conjures the same oppositional forces at play, in this case, a material so hard it becomes fragile. The song doesn’t play the full range the band can perform, choosing to remain in the ready to pounce mode for most of the song’s duration. Their earlier single, ‘Ryan Gosling’, a tune dedicated to hiding insecurity, demonstrated their ferocity in an unbridled fashion. Unlike that single, Brittle plays with a type of uneasy tautness.

This song starts off with bass and drums, a quick roll beginning an odd hypnotic bass riff joined by dry, fuzzy guitar. When the double tracked vocals enter, they are cool and impassionate. “I wait for hours, just to find you waiting”, he sings, like he’s disappointed rather than angry, or perhaps not surprised. When you start to think he’s not happy, he contradicts the idea with the next line: “Deprived of you I’m free” as if to say he would have preferred waiting. It might be surreal stream of consciousness stuff, but I doubt it. The message remains on point elsewhere. The melody is a little Ian Curtis, although the young band might be more likely to cite XiuXiu for melody-ideas against a bleak, ambient background.

There is a palpable tension here; an unease that is building through the fuzzy layers, held together with the jazzy drums and the unwavering, marching bass line. Above (and, somehow, below?) the rhythm guitar, another heavily effected guitar weaves lines of sparkling vapor-trail. While the drums and bass are dry, and the vocals have just a little slap delay on them, this ‘texture/effects’ guitar remains the only instrument with noticeable reverb.

It’s a genre escaping mix of sounds, using the ingredients of punk. Overall the mix is, if anything, strangely 1980’s. The drums are mixed like electronic ones in the overall sound; the effect guitar has the frequency range of a synth, while the vocals are heavily compressed but nearly buried up to their neck in bass and guitar. It might seem odd, but it works. Finally, the chorus breaks the tension with some true melodic chords: “Your bones are brittle, just like a wishbone” he sings. It is a song of warning, perhaps a threat. “Don’t try to fly you might break your spine”. Without the use of rhyming, the syncopated words just fit, making them appear more like a mantra than something even trying to be catchy.

There’s a few other lines like: “I got your contacts right here on my phone, Don’t fly too high reception is shit” that utilizes the same syllables but are not quite as memorable, but at least they keep the lyric matter post-modern.

Then there’s the music video – unique, disturbing, completely unpredictable, (I was already scared from their last video, ‘Ryan Gosling’, which featured real car accidents and a warning before the video played). Two actors re-enact a dream, maybe, complete with surreal captions, gross food consumption and the questioning of reality all presented in classy black and white. Again, the inside of a vehicle is used. I detect a loose concept emerging…

Of course, as you might expect, the band picks up the energy and it disintegrates a little like a grunge song at the end, but there is some glassy My Bloody Valentine leads toward the end and some cool backup vocals that turn the once abrasive sound into something closer to a pop chorus. It sounds a little like an At the Drive-In song, but not a frantic one about fighting the powers that be. I’m reminded a little of New Zealand’s The Mint Chicks when I see them live, but this song is more like No Age, or maybe Wavves with an influence from Devo. But, let’s face it, no one would be playing music like this if the Buzzcocks hadn’t existed.

Brittle is impressive and interesting, unpredictable and original. What more could you want from modern rock than that?  

Rating: ( 4 / 5 )

About Adult Friends

Adult Friends is a group of macabre obsessed youth who clash with an abrasive sound.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Adult Friends


There are no releases to display for Adult Friends.

Other Reviews By Nicholas Clark

TheSlacks - Single/Video Review: Information Ape
20 Feb 2023 // by Nicholas Clark
TheSlacks latest single Information Ape starts off with a sweet melody that reminds me of a 50's doowop band like The Penguins. Over the top of this some digital noises such as phones ringing and switches changing lines establishes the vibe or both sincere, innocent beginnings and hectic modern life.
Ripship - Album Review: Fearsome Engine
06 Jan 2023 // by Nicholas Clark
This couldn’t be a Ripship review without at least mentioning the immense noise the two-piece band produces. There – I’ve said it; they sure can conjure up some dBs.
Gig Review: Swallow the Rat w/ Ripship @ Valhalla, Wellington - 8/12/2022
10 Dec 2022 // by Nicholas Clark
Swallow the Rat and Ripship’s seven date North Island tour had landed in Wellington. Despite the anticipation for the event, including how people attending were talking about the event and online discussions, I entered a rather empty Valhalla bar on Vivian Street a little late for the advertised starting time.
Hans. - EP Review: Candy
08 Dec 2022 // by Nicholas Clark
Perhaps it was the introduction from the once great publication of VICE appointing him ‘one of the rising stars of New Zealand Hip Hop’ or perhaps it was Zane Lowe naming him one of New Zealand’s finest rappers, but my expectations were high going in to this review. Previously I had known Hans.
Alisa Xayalith - EP Review: Superpowers
08 Dec 2022 // by Nicholas Clark
Alisa Xayalith is one half of New Zealand’s most successful synth-pop acts of the 2010’s; The Naked and Famous. With Thom Powers, they dominated the early part of the decade with wonderfully produced, catchy and clever pop songs you could dance in a club or a bedroom to.
Substax - Single Review: Words
07 Dec 2022 // by Nicholas Clark
Substax's Words starts off with a fairly typical, hypnotic 180 bpm big club beat. Some of the sounds seem a little retro here, almost straight off an 80’s synth patch for percussion.
Bevan Mical - Single Review: Cuts Through The Years
21 Nov 2022 // by Nicholas Clark
Cuts Through The Years is a jolly, breezy single by multi-instrumentalist, Bevan Mical. The song begins with a two-chord sequence on acoustic guitar, but there's something exotic about the chords are instruments that support the verse.
GiGi Genie - EP Review: Seasons of The Soul / Wa O Te Wairua
21 Nov 2022 // by Nicholas Clark
Seasons of The Soul or Wa O Te Wairua, is a collection of songs by multi-instrumentalist and self-described folk noir artist GiGi Genie. The group is led by songwriter GiGi Crayford and her support band which includes flautists, violinists, zither and percussion players.
View All Articles By Nicholas Clark

NZ Top 10 Singles

  • BOY'S A LIAR PT. 2
    PinkPantheress And Ice Spice
    Miley Cyrus
    The Weeknd And Ariana Grande
    Morgan Wallen
    RAYE feat. 070 Shake
    Coi Leray
    Harry Styles
View the Full NZ Top 40...
muzic.net.nz Logo
100% New Zealand Music
All content on this website is copyright to muzic.net.nz and other respective rights holders. Redistribution of any material presented here without permission is prohibited.
Report a ProblemReport A Problem