Monday, 6 April 2009

Art Brut - Art Brut vs Satan (Cooking Vinyl 2009)

Art Brut are a wonderful concoction of posh erudite funny poetry and spiky guitars. Their first album, ‘Bang Bang Rock’n’Roll’ was a rousing piece of art theatricality and funny lo-fi lyrics about the awkwardness of love and being in a band and all those ridiculous Hoxton hipsters and their inherent stupidity. Second album, ‘It’s A Bit Complicated’ was a bit too polished for this doyen of lo-fi scuzz, so never really stayed with me. Third album, produced by Pixies god Frank Black, returns to their roots of good ol’ poetry and guitars. This time the themes veer from failed doomed relationships and the awkwardness of love and being in a band and being dropped by a record label because they tried to do something different and the stupid public didn’t like it, so fine we’ll go back to where you preferred us you idiots. And, I’m ashamed to say it, Eddie, but I love it. The new album is a superlative mix of relevant lyrics writhing in wry subtle accusations and insults, and the fierce guitars that made ‘Bang Bang Rock’n’Roll’ so electric.

‘Alcoholics Unanimous’ opens proceedings with a paranoid agoraphoric set of reflections over tea and coffee, deconstructing endless oblivious nights before, hoping you haven’t burnt any bridges in a haze of drunkenness. ‘DC Comics and Chocolate Milkshakes’ is close to my heart, playing through the idea that not drinking ale and reading the Guardian puts you in a state of arrested development. Argos laughs at those laughing at his comic obsessions. Two rousing openers to a strong album. ‘Am I Normal?’ and ‘What a Rush’ tongue-in-cheekedly run through bizarre awkward relationships. The triptych of ‘Demons Out!’ (biliously placing the record-buying public in the body of satan, asking plaintively ‘If you like pop music, then why do you let them abuse it? The record buying public’), ‘Slapdash for No Cash’ (destroying mediocrity by asking ‘Why is everyone trying to sound like U2?’) and ‘The Replacements’ (debating whether bands mean it, rhetorics like ‘So many bands are just putting it on/ Why can’t they be the same as their songs?) all ask questions about the people making the records and their intentions, the record labels releasing the records and their intentions and the record-buying public whose apathy allows this shit to reach our shelves. It’s an angry section, so righteous and spitting pure fury, but also sad and resigned to the failure of everyone involved in the creativity of music, of those who seek to destroy us. It’s a beautiful and sad section, full of pathos, you can hear the meetings, the broken-down communications and Eddie Argos’ suffocation at having to resort to a sound instead of trying to develop and move on and try new things. His shouting, his couplets, his posh articulated slur, his bouncy poetry are all essential in this section.

This is a great return to form, despite the circumstances that caused it. Frank Black’s production allows the Brut sound to breath, never intruding too much on the minimal set-up, giving it some gravitas with some clashing drums and panned 70s punk guitars revolving from ear-to-ear. This is Argos’ album though and his words are endearing, funny, angry and most of all, relevant. There’s a poet laureate position opening up soon, Eddie? People will be complaining in a few months about 2009 being another shit year for albums, but it’s April and we’ve had Micachu, Bat for Lashes, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Jeffrey Lewis, The Horrors, and now Art Brut, all completely destroying our ears with life-affirming, conscious, melodic and brilliant music.


No comments: