Adulkt Life - Book Of Curses
Debut album from the supergroup of Huggy Bear’s Chris Rowley, Male Bonding’s John Arthur Webb and Kevin Hendrick, and drummer Sonny Barrett.
Huggy Bear led the UK’s answer to riot grrrl, inspired by the “seismic shock” of witnessing a Nation of Ulysses performance together and galvanized by Bikini Kill drummer Tobi Vail’s germinal riot grrrl zine “Jigsaw.” In the 25 years since Chris Rowley played with iconic Huggy Bear, starting a new band hasn't felt right. But after John Arthur Webb (Male Bonding), who Rowley met while picking up records at a Rough Trade shop, asked if he wanted to play music together it “suddenly it felt super exciting.” Within a year, Webb and Rowley befriended drummer Sonny Barrett, who worked at a different Rough Trade location and later offered to drum in Adulkt life. The Adulkt Life lineup was finalized when Webb enlisted his best friend and longtime collaborator, Kevin Hendrick (Middex) on bass.
For Rowley, Adulkt Life “felt like it could carry the weight of all the things I would want to culturally load into a band without having to compromise any of it.” That meant these songs—ecstatic buzzsaw guitars, blown-out poetry, the improvisatory energy of torrential art-punk drumming that reveals Sonny’s free-jazz interest—should reflect the conditions of his life as an older person. In 2020, Rowley is a 55-year-old father and longtime employee of a children’s charity. “You have to create a question and interrogate yourself,” he says, and so he poses inexhaustible ones: What is it to parent in a crumbling world? What does it mean to stay political as Earth burns, to keep loving music? How best to communicate the excitement and charge of possibility from “a whole different set of paradigms?” Adulkt Life inquires but offers no easy answers, instead instigating punk’s eternal invitation to see: “Wow, I should do something—make something, start a political party, just do something rather than not do something.”
+ Indie Edition is pressed on White vinyl.
The cut-and-paste word collages Rowley once shouted in Huggy Bear are as cool and thrilling as ever on Book Of Curses—with chiseled noise hooks expertly mixed by Webb and mastered by Total Control’s Mikey Young, fitting the “cold war bubblegum” aesthetic called out in the lyrics—but charged by the high-stakes of adulthood. “Taking Hits” is a rallying cry for those unable to cry. The explosive “Stevie K” is a “mythic hero/ine song” inspired by Nation of Ulysses guitarist Steve Kroner. In the 1990s, after Rowley and the other members of Huggy Bear saw Nation of Ulysses, “You couldn’t be a band and want to be anything less than the impact that had on us [...] We wanted to shake everybody up.” Adulkt Life honors these impulses. Rowley expands on “Taking Hits” and “Stevie K”:
2. JNR Showtime
3. Whistle Country
4. Taking Hits
6. Stevie K
7. Room Context
9. Clean (But Itchy)
10. New Curfew
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