Bang Bang Rock and Roll
hile, like any work of art, its greatness is subjective and, like most music, it is objectively lacking in sheer originality, Art Brut’s triumphant debut still earns its status as one of 2005’s best releases. Bang Bang Rock and Roll is an album that tests the listener’s ability to discern what is more important—originality or execution. The relentless post-punk of the album enforces that it is not so much the genre rehashing of a Bravery or Razorlight that drags most modern throwback bands into mediocrity, it is both their uninspiring compositions and utter lack of personality. Art Brut’s music is, arguably, not much more or less unique than Kasabian, Kaiser Chiefs, or whatever neo-[older genre] band we like to hate, but they certainly don’t try to set the world on fire as they deliver previously-created music with a monsoon of creative bite.
Art Brut’s instrumental aptitude comes in a distant third behind their compositional formatting and lead singer Eddie Argos’ relentless energy, but the band’s crashing percussion, tube-driven guitar ferocity, and fat bass lines all prove vital to Bang Bang Rock and Roll’s success. Art Brut doesn’t create guitar “riffs” or “parts”—just licks. This vicious guitar work is one of many elements that achieve a devastating addictiveness throughout the entire album. The seven month-old single, “Formed A Band,” “Bad Weekend,” and “Modern Art” have already been converted into sought-after tablature posts.
But it doesn’t matter how well you can thrash or shred if it doesn’t sound good, and rarely does a section of Bang Bang Rock and Roll sound as if it wasn’t well thought-out and created with the intent to entertain. Though Eddie Argos frequently delivers a wonderful Mark E. Smith speechsing, his substantive, unforgettable melodies power Art Brut’s subtle and complex rock compositions. The just pop-appeal of Art Brut is undeniable as most tracks contain the type of melodies that, despite Argos' purposeful disjoint and heavy accent, you can’t get out of your head, but you don’t mind a single bit. Masterpiece single “Emily Kane”—which Argos says he wrote with legitimate hopes of sparking a reunion with his teenage crush—sports five distinctly beautiful melodies. The call and response chorus of the 60’s rock anthem, “Moving to LA”; the intense harmonizing of “Fight”; and the vocal crescendos of “Stand Down” also all prove that the band is far more than a quintet that has a firm understanding of the retro rock and roll formula. Their music never settles, as well-placed back-up harmonies, sprinklings of keyboard, and restrained guitar dueling bring every song to its full potential. Art Brut doesn’t just slap a melody and guitar parts on top of a cool chord progression—they write each part with a distinct purpose and, almost always, deliver.
Further heightening Bang Bang Rock and Roll’s fantastic musical content, the genuine, unforced humor of Argos is a remarkable bonus. Of all the smug, cheeky, plastic self-deprecating, or wacky humor mediated in on-line magazine loving music, hardly do you actually laugh. Without seeing or knowing an artist, it is difficult not to mistake—or identify?—most of these blatant attempts of humor as feeble expressions of cockiness. But this isn’t the case with Argos. Via a delivery devoid of asshole, British schoolboy innocence, and overlying subtlety, Argo’s sparsely-sung one-liners and clever song themes induce several audible moments of authentic laughter. His playful demeanor is one of the many finer details the band uses to take an old sound and mold it into their own. He and his band mates are not simply a calculated culmination of previous bands—they are Art Brut, and they here to entertain us.
STYLUSMAGAZINE.COM’S ALBUM OF THE WEEK: MAY 22 – MAY 28, 2005
Reviewed by: Kyle McConaghy
Reviewed on: 2005-05-23