Art Brut, Brilliant! Tragic!
Rich on tunes, laughs and, underneath it all, a heartening love of life
Art Brut had their moment in the indie rock spotlight around 2005, when the excitable U.K. weekly music magazine NME proclaimed them part of an "Art Wave" movement alongside Franz Ferdinand and Bloc Party. The music media's focus has long moved on to other matters, but the London five-piece have defiantly continued making albums of attitudinal, semi-comedic art-punk. Brilliant! Tragic!, their fourth album and the second to be produced by Frank Black, finds singer Eddie Argos once again obsessing about the minutiae of everyday life and the wonders of indie-pop trivia over a Libertines-style backing for which "rudimentary" is probably the kindest description.
Argos is a classic Nick Hornby case: arrested in development, but rich in self-awareness: "I want to be played in the background while couples drink wine/ That would be a triumph, with a voice like mine," he muses on "Sexy Sometimes" over a decidedly atonal, non-dinner-party-friendly racket. Black's propulsive production lends the album visceral thrills, but there are times when Argos' bathetic lyrical clowning evokes classic U.K. comedy-punk bands such as Half Man Half Biscuit and I, Ludicrous: On the determinedly adolescent "Axl Rose," he whines, "I want to give the world the finger/ With the exception of my favorite singer." Rich on tunes, laughs and, underneath it all, a heartening love of life, there is much here to cherish.