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Pop culture no longer applies to me
on 23 April 2007
There's just something so endearing about a band who announces on their first song: "Formed a band/we formed a band/look at us! We formed a band!" with a mixture of glee and winking confidence.
And it's just the warmup for this enthusiastic, energetic rock band, with their solid, peppy Britpop debut, "Bang Bang Rock & Roll." Their rollicking guitars are so infused with fun and over-the-top rock'n'roll sentiments that it's impossible not to be charmed.
A sizzling riff opens the first song, in which Eddie Argos announces that they've formed a band, and urges people to"Stop buying your albums from the supermarket/they only sell records that have charted." Then he adds with winking charm: "And yes, this is my singing voice. It's not irony, it's not rock & roll -- we're just talking.... to the KIDS!"
Turns out it's only the warmup -- next Art Brut focuses on the jangly, tight rhythms of how "My little brother just discovered rock & roll/There's a noise in his head, and he's out of control!"
From there, they trip off into a joyous round of tight Britpop odes to Emily Kane, bouncy little indiepop, and frolicking rock numbers that twist in on themselves during the catchy chorus. But they also try out some other sounds: the sunny Beach-Boysy pop of "Move to L.A.," and the weirdly ominous ballad "Rusted Guns."
At first, Art Brut sound like any other fun Britpop band. But their album blossoms the more you listen to it -- these lads have a tight grip on their brilliant instrumentation, and they know how to wink at us through their odd, somewhat repetitive lyrics.
The riffs in this album are simply stunning: they ring, buzz, bounce, and sizzle, tightly wound into solid tunes. They're paired with solid basslines and some smashing drums, along with some twisted keyboard and what sounds like stomping feet. Together, they form some deliciously dancy rock tunes, but they're complex enough to never get dull
At first, their lyrics sound kind of simplistic, and in a few songs they are. But listen carefully. They're a lot wittier than that: they take a few humorous jabs at L.A., the music industry, and derivative bands. And they know how to create beautifully over-the-top odes to a first love ("Every girl that I've seen since/looks just like you when I squint"), and the joy of rock'n'roll. Even a song about.... um, performance problems.
In fact, in some songs, they exude the delight of some teenage boys who are getting to have fun out on the town... with girls! In one song, Argos yells out joyously about a new girlfriend, "I've seen her naked.... twice!" Very cute.
Argos himself has a nice voice -- it's pleasantly ordinary, neither too smooth or too rough, and he can sing through quieter songs as well as the rollicking dancier ones. And occasionally he drops out of singing altogether, usually to deliver the best lines: "No more songs about sex and drugs and rock and roll / It's BOOOOORING!"
Art Brut's debut album is a fun, rollicking, laddish album of solid rock'n'roll tunes, delightful lyrics and solid singing. Definite;y a must-buy.