Art Brut are just so darn lovable. Any band that rejoices at their own existance has gotta be special.
That fact is reinforced in their second album "It's A Bit Complicated," which is crammed with more of their exuberant art-punk-poppery. It doesn't stray far from their first album's mold, but them it doesn't really need to -- their energetic, quirky little songs are more than enough fun.
After a bunch of "woo hoo hoo hoos" and a little tap on the bass, the opening song unfurls into a sprightly, punky little rock song. "We've taken our clothes off, in the wrong order/And you're leaving your shoes to make you look taller," Eddie Argos muses, contemplating the perils of teen nookie. "I know I shouldn't/And it's possibly wrong/To break from your kiss/To turn up a pop song..."
Having roped you in with the catchy stuff, Art Brut turns their attention to fast-paced rockers like "Direct Hit" ("Move around like your shoes don't fit!", which are equal parts indie-rock and catchy danceable stuff -- some builds perpetually up to a peak, some bounces all over, and some rushes forward in tight, high-octane blurs.
It winds right down to the brilliant last few songs -- "Nag Nag Nag" is an ideal blend of indie-rock grittiness and dancy exuberance, and "Jealous Guy" sounds like an amped-up version of a classic Britpop song. The album ends, but it doesn't slow at all.
Perhaps the most appealing thing about Art Brut is that they always sound just serious enough to make brilliant music, but not so serious that they don't sound like they're having huge quantities of fun. "It's A Bit Complicated" doesn't change much, but it does continue doing what they do best, with a bit of new polish.
The music basically rides on a wave of blazing bass guitar and nimble electric guitar riffs, tightly wound together into fast-moving melodies. They can make it cycle, blaze, buzz, smash and blast in brief spurts (look at "Late Sunday Evening"). And Mikey B produces some nice drums to ground the rapid-fire guitars, although he's a bit drowned out in some songs.
Argos tends to speak rather than really sing, in his warm, rough voice. For most artists, this would sound like a guy covering an inability to sing, but with Argos it just sounds conversational and quirky ("Sorry if my accent's flawed/I learnt my German from a 7 inch record").
And the songs he sings are full of witty lines and laddish woes -- "I Will Survive" is basically an ode to slob dorm living, and "Jealous Guy" is the lament of a guy feeling threatened by his ex-girlfriend's exes, and her lack of intimacy with him ("You're asleep, I wish I was too/But I can't because I've got something to prove/I tried to wake you with a really loud cough/I accidentally set your alarm clock off...")
"It's a Bit Complicated" doesn't really expand Art Brut's sound, but it's more lovable laddish indie-rock from a band that is almost too endearing. Definitely worth getting.