By: Peter Gaston
For those who forgot what rock’n’roll really is — an escapist, fantasy world in which young boys and girls frolic during their disposable income years — Art Brut is here to rattle your memory. Within the first few bars of Art Brut’s astonishingly clever debut, Bang Bang Rock and Roll, frontman Eddie Argos unfurls a staggering declaration: “We’re gonna be the band that writes the song / That makes Israel and Palestine get along.” After a silly pregnant pause, Argos adds another unlikely proposition: “We’re gonna write a song as universal as ‘Happy Birthday’ / that makes sure everybody knows everything is gonna be OK.”
And so begins a vastly engaging new chapter in British rock, something that, at surface level, might seem indistinguishable from the onslaught of rearview mirror-style U.K. acts. But Argos and Art Brut aren’t frilly like Ricky Wilson of Kaiser Chiefs, or overtly stylized like Franz Ferdinand. In fact, Argos prefers a sort of rock’n’roll rap, something akin to the Streets’ Mike Skinner fronting the Clash, and his proletariat banter offers affable, intuitive observations of friends and lovers. Much of the music takes a back seat to that banter, but on “Good Weekend,” the band supports some of Argos’ best lines — “First time I saw her / I wanted more than just to hold her / I wanted to bend her and fold her” — with a snappy, mod-style rhythm and cheeky harmonies.
Argos, though, is much larger than any musical expression here. He pokes fun at his little brother, who made Argos a tape of only b-sides and bootlegs, and “every single song on that tape said exactly the same thing. Argos shuns the NME, and ponders how getting deported might facilitate his emigration to the West Coast, where he’d ride a Harley half-naked and sip cocktails with Morrissey. Please come, Eddie. Remind us how to have a good time again.
Bang Bang Rock and Roll is out now in the U.K. on Fierce Panda/Banana Recordings; no official U.S. release date has been set, but the album is actually available via iTunes (click here). However, the band gave SPIN.com a track from the album, “Fight,” for your listening pleasure (Download MP3 of “Fight”).