Adulkt Life – Book of Curses

Every once in a while, recombinant DNA experiments pay off. Male Bonding was a London garage punk outfit with a promising sound that often came up tantalizingly short on the key dynamics of hooks and transgression. Enter Chris Rowley – onetime member of Huggy Bear, UK standard bearers for the riot grrrl movement helmed stateside by Bikini Kill.

But here’s the thing – since Rowley took a backseat to his female Huggy Bear frontwomen it’s hard to determine to what extent he drove that band’s anarchic energy. There’s also the question of whether a 25-year musical silence had dulled his edge.

Based on the evidence of Adulkt Life’s Book of Curses the answers are: a) quite a lot, and b) not a bit. Rowley more than addresses whatever minor deficiencies these bassist/guitarist Male Bonding alums may have brought to the table. Or if you prefer, credit Adulkt Life’s teenage drummer recruit Sonny Barrett, who pounds the skins with authority and precision well beyond his years.

Adulkt Life (the “k” is silent – don’t ask) cuts its DIY attack with just a hint of ’70s radio rock swagger – I hear faint echoes of Thin Lizzy and Alice Cooper coursing through the veins of songs like “Country Pride” (which also features some ace free jazz horn bleats) and “Jnr Showtime.” Trad rock fealty has become a calling card of a passel of recent Philly/Jersey indie bands, but these Brits wisely use it as a seasoning rather than a main course. For reference points, think of the Membranes injected with a dose of Melvins sludge. I doubt it’s a coincidence the album’s longest track is called “Flipper,” either.

Boundary-smashing punk fury remains the primary influence, however. Johnny Rotten once famously sneered “Don’t know what I want, but I know how to get it” on “Anarchy in the UK.” Rowley subverts that emotion into “Don’t know what I’m for/ Unless I’m against it” on the brilliant “Taking Hits,” a wizened warrior’s spot-on 2020 twist.

Here’s the kicker – it turns out Rawley is 55 years old, a devoted father with a longtime job at a children’s charity. Counting backwards, this means he was hardly a spring chicken in Huggy Bear either. The next time someone tries to slag off a record as dad rock, put on a copy of Book of Curses and thank them for the compliment.

Adulkt Life
Book of Curses
[What’s Your Rupture?]