From our “Oldies” But Goodies Folder: Eleven years ago England’s Art Brut put out their debut album, Bang Bang Rock & Roll. The first tune I heard from them had the refrain “I’m considering a move to L.A.,” and detailed how singer Eddie Argos was going to ride a Harley down the Sunset Strip, shirtless, as soon as he got there. And that was pretty funny considering the guy’s voice is clearly English and so his likely pale torso cruising Hollywood on a chopper would certainly get a few gawkers checking him out. I soon found a few of their singles, like “Emily Kane” and “Good Weekend,” and eventually this long player complete with “Moving to L.A.”
What stood out about Art Brut, then and now, is Argos’ humorous lyrics matched with the band’s indie-punk delivery. Instead of a frontman telling us (like umpteen lead singers before him) of his virility and of all his female conquests, we got a guy lamenting his inability to perform (and I don’t mean on stage) with the girl of his dreams. At the same time, this anti-Romeo was going to – along with his bandmates – write the one song that would “make Israel and Palestine get along.” Well, that didn’t happen, but they did gain a healthy following for awhile. I got to see them a few times back then and they were as exciting and fun on stage as their records promised. Sadly, their first album was their best and Art Brut seemed to lose more steam with each new release. Their last outing, the 2013 2CD compilation Art Brut Top of the Pops, put together a disc of “best of” material with a disc of rarities and B-sides. Though the band appears to still be together (their website indicates new tunes are in the works), it seems unlikely that they’ll manage to cadge the energy and vitality of their hilarious ’n’ catchy debut. Still, I’d be willing to have a listen. Their refreshing, self-deprecating approach is one that’s in short supply these days. I mean, as far as I can tell, none of the band listen to the Velvet Underground, don hipster beards or do any variety of ho-hum, generic activities that would indicate they have motives other than just to create catchy punk rock. You can do it, Art Brut! Give us another Bang Bang Rock & Roll!
4/5 (Fierce Panda/Banana/Downtown)