Are They Battling the Devil, or Music Itself?

Metroland | April 22, 2009
Eddie Argos sounds a bit bored on Art Brut vs. Satan. Sure, that's kind of his thing—this marks the third time the "singer" talks his way through an album—but perhaps even he realizes that the joke is getting old. And so it's Art Brut by numbers in the early going, with Argos expressing a tongue-in-cheek concern over public opinion ("How am I supposed to sleep at night/When no one likes the music we write?") while the band practically ape the Arctic Monkeys. Irony? Hard to tell. So much of the lyrical capital is invested in ironic detachment that such a sly musical move could go underappreciated.

The majority of Art Brut vs. Satan finds Argos raising a glass to youth, to his teenage love of "D.C. Comics and Chocolate Milkshake," and to the records he used to love—and the ones he loves today. On one track, he can't believe he has "only just discovered the Replacements"; on "What a Rush" he chants, "You like the Beatles/And I like the Stones/But those are just records our parents owned/I can't believe those things I said/I blame it on a massive rush of blood to the head." It may be the album's best line, equating (perhaps unintentionally) teenage lust with the music of Coldplay. Still, besides some funny/clever bits here and there, the record gets bogged down in the same old formula—Argos ranting wildly as the band churn out somewhat-anonymous guitar rock. To wit, the album's best song is the one that introduces something new to the mixture: a melodic vocal hook, on "Summer Job."


Metroland was founded in 1978 as a monthly entertainment guide; a year and a half later it went weekly, continuing to focus primarily on arts, entertainment and lifestyles. In September 1986, Metroland reinvented itself as a full-fledged alternative newsweekly, offering...
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