Recordings: Art Brut – Bang Bang Rock & Roll

    Stop buying your albums at the supermarket. They only sell records that have charted, and Art Brut, well, we’ve only just started,” stammers Eddie Argos on “Formed a Band,” the first single from Art Brut’s genius mockery of a debut, Bang Bang Rock ‘n’ Roll. That hello could be the anthem of any indie rock band in the world, but only these Londoners have the unassuming wit to lay it out there as if arrogance wasn’t a staple ingredient of rock. Considered with their highly suggestive name — a hip coinage for “outsider art,” works by artists who lack formal training — and after the first verse, they’ve practically already admitted they suck.

    That hilarious humility is their top offering: Vocalist Argos points his dry, brutally (forgive the pun) sarcastic British chatter at every trite rock ’n’ roll subject — good weekends, bad weekends, fighting with girls and moving to L.A. — all over straightforward punk-rock poppers. Think Jonathan Richman’s ironic confessionals over the gritty new-wave apparatus of the Fall.

    The novelty could be cheap, but Argos’ verses strike near profound when loaded with his own cutely weird obsessions (pop stardom, modern art, Morrissey), elevating them above mere parody — an insightfully retarded social and artistic commentary. But if Argos really is so bent on getting on Top of the Pops (which might also mean the supermarket), he might for once need to take seriously his own nonsense: “No more songs about sex and drugs and rock ’n’ roll; it’s boring.”

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