Art Brut – Brilliant! Tragic!

January 01, 1970

(Cooking Vinyl)


Eddie Argos’
art-punk, back-handed, sometimes-personal/sometimes-cultural spoken ramblings
once again consume Art Brut’s sound on their fourth studio release (and second consecutive
with Frank Black producing). But this time, not only do they consume the band’s
outsider indie art creation, but the once-brash (now simply snarky) lyrical
madlibs of Argos
also manage to detract from the particularly crisp backing band. In “Lost
Weekend”, guitarist Ian Catskillin sneaks in a “Satisfaction” teaser riff that
almost goes unnoticed in between Argos’ somewhat melodic husky whispers (and
the closest he gets to actual singing), with lyrics like “I’m sorry if I
embarrassed you, by saying something stupid like ‘I love you'”. It is here, in
the first single off of Brilliant!
where I first find myself walking away with syllabic
pronunciations as opposed to a tyrannical tuneful package, like in Art Brut’s
debut release, Bang Bang Rock & Roll back
in 2005.


Not to say that
the songs aren’t catchy though. The thrashing guitars, distorted chords and
sharp percussion are there throughout
the album – they simply take a seat several rows behind the vocals. The songs
are catchy for the same reasons they’ve always been. The sound is now
recognizable and competently clamorous, and Argos seems intent on owning that in the
album opener “Clever Clever Jazz” as he wistfully reveals “I hope my friends
will come tonight so they can see what I’m really like” – and I guess that’s
it. This is exactly what Art Brut is really like, and if you’re not on board, Argos goes even further to make no apology
via an apology by sharply spitting “Sorry that it doesn’t sound like it’s
planned … Can’t you see we’re doing the best that we can?”


Fair enough.
“Martin Kemp” is a keeper and reminds me of the original, unabashed Art Brut
sound that attracted me to these guys in the first place, and you can’t help but
laugh and applaud Argos’ witty criticism in “Bad Comedian”, as he scornfully
digs at an ex’s new lover with raw intensity: 
“He’s dressing like came free with the NME” and “I bet he signs his name
in comic sans!” are both particularly poignant. And haven’t we all been there? Brilliant! Tragic! continues to display Argos’ perpetually slick
abilities when it comes to the things we all leave from conversations wishing
we had thought of. Besides, everyone likes a good ol’ universal cut-down,
especially where font choices are involved. 


DOWNLOAD: “Martin Kemp,” “Bad Weekend,” “Sexy

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