I don’t know if I missed the election on which band humanity would be sending to take on the dark one, but I don’t think I’d have voted to send Art Brut to take on the big evil guy. Eddie Argos may be a smarmy, charming bastard, but not exactly the kind of death-bringer you’d want to fight Satan. But, luckily, if you ignore the album title for a while, you don’t have to worry about the future of mankind. You can just sit back and enjoy the glammy alt rock and Argos’s heavily accented singing rambling, the goofy-loser lyrics and angular guitars.
The goofy-loser persona is back in full force, a return to their debut, Bang Bang Rock and Roll (which featured lyrics like “Look at us, we formed a band!” and “I’ve seen her naked-twice!”), instead of the semi-successful-loser in 2007’s It’s A Bit Complicated (“Is it so wrong to break from your kiss to turn up a pop song?”). Opening the album with “Slept on my face and woke up confused” proves that the super-endearing Argos is back to his old tricks. The sharp, charging guitar chords of Ian Catskilkin and Jasper Future (undoubtedly real names, right?) keep the lyrics from going stale and sappy. But the key to the track is the backing vocals in the chorus, as if Argos’ geeky conscience is there to keep him from getting too grandiose. When he shouts that he’s been making mistakes because of how drunk he was, his backing vocals agree. But when he says he’s hiding them well, they admit otherwise.
And the dorkiness doesn’t stop there. “DC Comics and Chocolate Milkshake” is a nerd anthem for the ages. “DC Comics and chocolate milkshake, some things will always be great,” Argos stammers. Even when the song tries to get romantic, it’s still just a love for Booster Gold and Green Lantern: “I’m in love with a girl in my comic shop. She’s a girl…who likes comics.”
If “DC Comics” explains where the money’s going, the sublime “Summer Job” explains where it temporarily came from. The song echoes the attitude nearly everyone has had at some point in their life. “Fire me, give me the sack…Can’t remember the last time I saw my friends, don’t think I can take much more of this,” Argos sputters.
I’ve got to make a note of the production, for the very reason that there’s not much to talk about. It’s concise, controlled, thanks to another alt rock nerd, one Frank Black (or Black Francis or whatever you will). That’s right, the Pixies frontman-turned solo musician-turned reunited Pixies frontman(?) holds down the mixing board for the album and does a great job of reeling everything in. There’s just enough rock bombast to keep things from getting too sincere, but not so much that you’d take the rock bombast seriously.
But, in the end, Eddie Argos is the one thing to pay attention to. The jaunty, jagged rock gets a bit repetitive, considering this is the third album full of it. Maybe this is just the opinion of another lovable (hopefully), nerdy (definitely) dude, but Argos’ antics never get tiring. After listening to Art Brut, I always come away hoping for more stories of what a silly, dorky life Argos lives.