November 1, 2007

Record Review: Art Brut

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Eddie Argos talks with a range of timbre. The guy definitely does not sing, as evident on both of Art Brut’s albums. Don’t mistake it for “rapping,” which you wouldn’t anyway after listening. No one who has ever heard any rap music ever in their entire existence would ever mistake what Argos does for rapping. But it’s certainly not quite singing either, since the guy barely even cares whether his talking has any correspondence with the melodies of the music — he makes it seem a coincidence that the vocal phrases correspond with the music phrases at all. This is why Argos and Art Brut are the masters of a new form of music I like to call Talk Rock.
Talk Rock is not a form of music that you can listen to for long quantities of time. The songs can be intensely catchy, but they are sure to give you a headache after a while if you’re only unconsciously trying to make the vocals match up to the music in your head, ’cause they won’t. It’s the musical version of an optical illusion — the old lady-or-the-young-girl picture that used to give you a migraine at an eight-year old, but set to music. Really, though, songs like the record’s first single, “Direct Hit,” are unforgettably catchy, so you have to forget the headache and rock out (which is to say, bob your head up and down violently.) Daniel Radcliffe counts himself a fan, and if Harry Potter likes them, there must be something to it, eh?
As Eddie Argos said-sung on the band’s first track of their first album, where they “Formed a Band,” “And yes, this is my singing voice. It’s not irony, And it’s not rock and roll. We’re just talking to the kids.” Supposedly, Art Brut is not meant to be satirical, but if gullible isn’t a word anymore then I‘ll believe anything he says. On the new album, he’s pretty serious when he talk-sings that “People in love, lie around and get fat. I didn’t want us to end up like that.” To be fair, it is a possibility that outside the U.S. borders, people don’t actually care for obesity.  They may even break up with a girlfriend so she doesn’t get complacent and chubby. Somehow it’s not quite convincing, though it is catchy.
Art Brut changed up the melodies, making them not really complicated, but more than they had been on Bang Bang Rock n Roll. They’re really not a complicated band to begin with — what you see is what you get/hear. Their band name indicates that they are the most art brut (outsider art) of all rock, and their first album’s name, Bang Bang Rock n Roll, indicated that they would be making the simplest rock about simple rock narratives. Now, with It’s a Bit Complicated, the music has in fact evolved to a bit more complicated melodies from their previous bang-bang-type rock. But that word “bit” should not be underestimated, because the Talk Rock style remains and so does the general ethos of art that is brut.