They say Satan has all the best tunes, and on this evidence they may just be right.
Jon Lusk 2009-04-17
For reasons that have evaded yours truly, this South London five-piece are named after the 'outsider art' movement, and spuriously bracketed by some sections of the rock press with frankly more interesting 'art wave' bands such as Franz Ferdinand. Their third album continues to showcase a self-consciously adolescent brand of humour that hinges on substance abuse, rock namedropping and embarrassing shagging scenarios. You'll either love 'em or hate 'em.
The most distinctive thing about Art Brut is also the most annoying – impressively eyebrowed vocalist Eddie Argos, who talks (literally) a lot but doesn't say much in his clever-clever spoken-word spiels. These occasionally stray into 'ironically' out-of-tune, half-sung choruses, often repeated a
good deal more than they should be. And then some.
Art Brut vs Satan is book-ended by gratuitous tales of alcohol (Alcoholics Unanimous) and drug-fuelled (Mysterious Bruises) excess. The Passenger lets us know that Argos is really, really (actually not really) into public transport while making a 'sly' reference to a far better song by Iggy Pop.
There are more such rock references on Slap Dash For No Cash, The Replacements and Twist And Shout. And Summer Job reflects on what Argos was possibly doing before Art Brut and may well be doing again quite soon.
The musical accompaniment is mostly limited to perfunctory (and surprisingly artless) buzz-saw indie guitar pop and boasts a production credit by Black Francis, but don't expect anything as dynamic or groundbreaking as his work with Pixies.
Comedy may have been the new rock 'n' roll fifteen years ago, but rock and comedy just don't mix very well – unless you're Flight of the Conchords – the problem generally being that after one listen, That Joke Isn't Funny Anymore. (Get it? Oh, just Google it…) Another problem Art Brut have is that their songs generally aren't funny the first time around. Sorry, guys – nil points, thumbs down. Give me Satan any day. They say (s)he has all the best tunes and on the evidence of this, they may just be right.