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4.2 out of 5 stars
Art Brut Vrs Satan
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on 26 April 2009
The best band in Britain once again produce a highly entertaining album of well observed vignettes all powered along by some killer riffs and funktastic bass and drums. Art Brut - Britain needs you more than ever, they just don't realize it yet. "I'm in love with a girl / In my comic shop / She's a girl that likes comics / She probably gets out a lot!" Like to see Johnny Borrell come up with something as good as that.
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on 3 May 2009
Eddie Argos and co are back with a new album 'Art Brut Vs satan'. Although it lacks the killer punch of some of the bands earlier work, it is still far more interesting that what some other bands are currently producing. Frank Black (The Pixies) produced this and to be honest a lot of his work gets lost and goes largely un-noticed. First single 'Alcoholics Unanimous' hits the spot instantly and sounds like classic Art Brut. What follows takes time to get used to and nothing really jumps out and grabs you. However, after a few listens the whole thing starts to work its magic. The absolute highlight of the album for me is the final track 'Mysterious Bruises' which might just be the best thing that Art Brut have ever produced, stunning. On the whole this is great, maybe not as catchy as the first 2 albums, but great all the same.
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on 16 December 2009
I've had this album since it came out in April and wanted to wait a while to give it a review. Bang Bang Rock n Roll is by far my favourite album of the decade. It's really hard when a band blows you away with their debut album there is always worry of the disappointing second album. Art Brut's second album was a very good record, brilliant in places (Direct Hit, Nag Nag Nag Nag, Late Sunday Evening) but overall it lacked the energy of the debut and I just didn't connect with it as much. Well for the third album that energy is back! The album's first single Alcoholics Unanimous set's things up nicely with a brilliant call and response chorus and a wonderful fake ending complete with Pixies Harmonies. If you're reading about this album you probably already know that Frank Black is the producer of this album. He's done a great job of catching their live sound. Second track DC Comics & Chocolate Milkshake is a simple tale of one of Eddies passions and features yet another great Art Brut lyric
"I'm in love with a girl in my comic shop
She's a girl that likes comics, she probably get's that a lot"
Another highlight is the most moving song they've done yet with Am I Normal? Which has a lyric Jarvis Cocker would be proud of. His tale of heartbreak is a slight update on the Emily Kane story and he delivers it beautifully, sounding so disheartened with his inability to talk to the girl he's chasing. The records best track is probably Demons Out! which is easily the angriest song they've released so far. It's one of the songs that makes me proud to call them one of my very favourite bands. Eddie describes this song as a rant against average bands that sell way to many albums. It maybe an easy song topic but he delivers it with such conviction, I think it comes across that he's incredibly passionate about music and Coldplay/U2 being really huge really baffles him. A lot of why I love this album is down to the lyrics but the band sound as tight as they did on the opening of Formed a Band back in 2004. Another worthy mention is for Summer Job which is such a simple affecting tune and lyric it's hard not to get caught up in the simple I hate my job story a lot of us can relate to. The album ends with Mysterious Bruises which is twice as long as anything they've put out. It's a strange note to end the album on with an almost funky bass line and an odd paranoid lyric about another drunken night out. I just don't get tired of this band and I know they're an acquired taste but I think they're a band to believe in. Art Brut Vs Satan is the sound of them becoming a real band and I hope that they continue to make albums that make me this excited about indie music when I think there isn't that much out there in that scene.
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on 25 May 2009
Whereas 'Bang Bang Rock 'n' Roll' contained lyrics full of Argos' charm, yet lacked a little in the music department, and 'It's a Bit Complicated' somewhat overproduced, they've got the perfect balance on 'Art Brut vs Satan'. Black Francis has done an amazing job and I love the honesty of Eddie's words, even I, a 28 year old girl, can relate to the great stuff he writes about (waking up to odd bruises after drinking, hangovers, refusing to like bands if they don't seem cool in real life.) There are some great guitar parts on here too, I've always though Ian Catstiltskin is hugely underrated.
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on 25 March 2009
Art Brut did a fantastic first album that has been near the top of my album collection since its debut. "It's a bit complicated" had it's moments but I couldn't listen to it all the way through after the first few listens and sank to the bottom of the pile.

However, when "Art Brut Vs. Satan" landed I thought I'd give them another go and I am glad I did! This is a great album with some fantastic lyrics.

Eddie Argos is back on form and I will try and catch them if they come around here on their tour.

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VINE VOICEon 28 April 2009
With all of its key representatives releasing their third LPs, the NME-sanctioned "art wave" genre has had something of a resurrection in the last couple of months. Bloc Party surprised everyone with their challenging departure from the mainstream, Intimacy. Franz Ferdinand resurfaced after a fairly long hiatus and surprised no-one with their limp third album, Tonight. And now Art Brut are back with their third record, Art Brut vs Satan.

Unlike Bloc Party, Art Brut are in the slightly less enviable position of being relative outsiders, looking to court the mainstream as a means of regular job avoidance. By sticking to their guns, Art Brut - like Franz Ferdinand - will be hoping that art wave's star is not in a state of waning. It must be said that any movement is only as good as its component parts and as far as Art Brut vs Satan goes, the news for art wave (according to this critic) isn't good.

The main problem with art wave is that its irony has a tendency of becoming easily inverted, with bands ultimately sounding like a Chris Morris piss-take of themselves. Worse still, because the irony trick is played here with such incessant predictability, the whole album merges into one slightly unfunny joke. The problem being, you're guaranteed to laugh more at the reductionist wit of anti-irony satirists like Chris Morris and Charlie Brooker than the straight-laced irony of Art Brut. Post-modernism and nihilism are the anti-Christs of many forms of humour. For art wave, irony has met its maker in satirism: whereas art wave's self-referential irony once felt like a refreshing tonic to the derivative movements of Brit-pop and new wave punk, the movement now feels more like an unintended parody of itself.

Aside from its sub-contextual problems, Art Brut vs Satan is not helped by another, more obvious, factor. As Franz Ferdinand have found with their latest album, and to a certain extent with the follow-up to their landmark debut, once the well has dried up you either evolve or suffer the consequences. Bloc Party spotted the musical death knells of predictability and stagnation early and swerved to avoid them. With their third release, Art Brut are still riding the buzz of their debut. Aside from the final track's noble, seven-minute attempt at self-indulgence, the formula remains the same: three-minute, punky student anthems laden with immediate hooks, catchy riffs and conversational storytelling - all of which is doused in a quintessentially British irony.

Album opener Alcoholics Unanimous is as obvious as its title's (huh, like so ironic) wordplay. With his overly-enunciated southern accent, lead singer Eddie Argos informs us: "I've been up all night / I've been making mistakes / I'm hiding it well / but I don't feel great". Argos then goes on to describe how he feels compelled to send his friends a "group text" as a means of apology for his drunken misdemeanours. Hopefully, the group text will extend to all those with the misfortune to hear this track - and all of its sub-Hollyoaks clichés. Thankfully, crunching Graham Coxon-light fretwork - a regular feature of the album - helps to fill in the song's lyrical gaping holes.

As the album progresses, the irritating student humour carries on unabated. With DC Comics and Chocolate Milkshake, Argos describes how he "eats cereal for every meal" (weirdo!), but has never had to share a teabag with another four people (that's just sick! Why would you do that!?). However, he does admit to a fondness for the title's subject matter "even at the age of 28!" The crazy fool. I bet he, like, still lives with his parents and doesn't have any means of regular income! That's OK, because I'd rather have him explain the connection between his completely uninteresting juvenility and a (truly unfortunate) girl working in a local comic shop that Argos fancies. No, I really would.

Throughout the album's duration, the whole gamut of Adrian Mole-inspired day-to-day happenings are covered in a similarly narrative, faux-ironic fashion. A number of inspiring topics are covered such as: Argos' predilection for public transport (The Passenger); shyness (Am I Normal?); amateur bands (Slap Dash For No Cash); the discovery of an old band (The Replacements); and the crapness of summer jobs (Summer Job). Although the subject matter is not exactly life-changing, the band's musical output is profuse with adrenaline-inducing guitar work, raucous drumming and addictive baselines - think along the lines of a Razorlight-Maccabees cross germination. There can be no doubt this album's tight production is its life raft: Frank Black's input has clearly been of great benefit.

Demon's Out, not before time, comes to the album's rescue and sees the band facing up to their own fate. As an individual track, it is easily the album's most interesting juncture. With a sense of exasperation, Argos expresses his fears regarding his band's future: "the record-buying public we hate them / this is our group vs Satan / a brush with Satan can be fatal / we're doing this for you / so you should be grateful!" The extent of the band's frustration becomes clear when Argos asks: "how am I supposed to sleep at night / when no-one likes the records we write?" Tracks like this one that harbour a greater degree of confession and intrigue and a more restrained use of irony may provide the singer with a resolution to his troubles.

Perhaps this illuminating illustration of the band's own sense of fallibility will usher in a new and improved Art Brut. Certainly, the lengthy final track suggests the band, at least musically, are capable of creating interesting landscapes. Let's hope this band's future is not hamstrung by its now tiresome ironic predisposition.
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