music journalist since 1992 | educator since 2004 | podcaster since 2020 | Iranian American since birth
Reviewed for Venus Zine:
Art Brut Art Brut vs. Satan (Downtown)
Art Brut vs. Satan (Downtown)
By Lily Moayeri
Published: May 13th, 2009 | 9:00am
On Art Brut’s third album, Art Brut vs. Satan, the primarily British group confirms that it is the noisier, messier, not as wry-witted Pulp for the Noughties. The stream of consciousness lyricism of vocalist Eddie Argos is more the driving force behind Art Brut than its chaotic brand of garage pop. Argos has a unique view on the most mundane of everyday activities, which he manages to draw into nonsensical lyrics that are, nevertheless, relatable. This is not to say that Argos is saying anything particularly brilliant; quite the opposite, in fact. He is dragging out the most senseless conversations with himself ad nauseam. Case in point: “DC Comics and Chocolate Milkshake” — Argos’ hard-to-understand delivery matches his drivel, making it easier to handle all around.
The Pixies’ Black Francis decided to take over controls for Art Brut vs. Satan, less to make it American-friendly (as there is no stopping Argos), but more to make it coherent musically. The place where this attempt falls the flattest is on “Demons Out!” where the refrain of “Art Brut vs. Satan” begins to wear on your nerves long before the song hits its closing, harangued guitar strains.
This sense of demise starts happening at the halfway point of Art Brut vs. Satan, and it marks where the entire Art Brut experience becomes something that might be better experienced on two separate occasions. Even Argos seems like he agrees when he starts using “la-la-la” in place of words on “Twist and Shout.” Listening to this album all the way through will cause you to grind your teeth to powder.