am I still supposed to like Art Brut ?! (pseudo Art Brut vs Satan review)


I remember back in 2005 when Art Brut’s Bang Bang Rock & Roll was Pitchforked/Best New Music’d with reviewer Rob Mitchum writing that:

“When you start to measure the amount of music you listen to in gigabytes and jumbo-size Case Logics, it’s easy to forget the awesome power of the simple declarative statement… That it’s difficult for me to find a recent point of reference for Art Brut is a testament to just how self-serious indie rock has become… Art Brut, through their thoroughly unpretentious embrace of pretentiousness, are the most punk new band I’ve heard in years, punk having lost itself long ago to the pretentiousness of unpretentiousness.”

I read the review and thought “wow, maybe I should check that out, it sounds novel.” And indeed it was just that, novel.

I mean I probably listened to that album at least 10 times, which isn’t bad (I usually only listen to my favorite albums more than 10 times).  But realistically, the Art Brut album was more of a novelty than a necessity.  And I probably should have known this going into Bang Bang Rock & Roll.  I mean Pitchfork compared them to The Ramones, and I hate The Ramones.

But alas, Bang Bang Rock & Roll was really “down to earth” and “raw,” and it’s not so difficult to see the initial allure.  The singer, Eddie Argos, was just a British indie-rock bro who got excited about naked girls and starting a band – kind of like you and I probably would.  Although in 2009, with so many indie-bands over the last 3 years almost having too much fun (see Los Campesinos! & the entire electro movement), Bang Bang Rock & Roll would, perhaps, barely have garnered a second of attention.


I think the name itself, Art Brut, says a lot.  Although admittedly, I may be misinterpreting the meaning.  Basically, Art Brut is art-slang for “outside art” – and to me this says that Art Brut being is an “outside music” band; basically a band that’s not quite music, but earns a moment of musical history merit based on it’s originality.  I have to say though – and this is probably just be the Trekkie in my me speaking – that if I’m going to listen to talk-rock, I’m probably more inclined to flip back to William Shatner’s Has Been (which, by the way, predates Bang Bang Rock & Roll).

In 2007 Art Brut released their sophomore LP, It’s A Bit Complicated.  I never listened to it.  And that choice wasn’t due to a bad review, it was based purely on the fact that I had no desire to listen to another Art Brut record.  Which is kind of similar to me having the new Decemberists’ album, The Hazards of Love, for several weeks now without pushing play even once.

I’m listening to the new Art Brut LP, Art Brut vs Satan, right now, and it’s just not doing it for me.  It sounds exactly like the first LP, but it’s less interesting, less tight, and less novel.  It doesn’t necessarily sound awful or painful, it’s more or less just OK I guess… but my desire to hear Art Brut definitely died 4 years ago.

However, Art Brut continues to get indie-mag ink (I haven’t read any of the articles though) and I have to wonder, “is Art Brut really a band worth following?” and “does Art Brut really deserve our attention based on past indie-cred?”

I’m inclined to say that Art Brut isn’t worth covering anymore, but then again here I am writing about them (likely for the first and last time).


I doubt I’ll play Art Brut vs Satan again… I’ll probably never listen to It’s A Bit Complicated… but eventually I might spin Bang Bang Rock & Roll and reminisce about the 2 weeks during the winter of 2005 that I rocked out with Art Brut.

At the end of Mitchum’s ’05 review he hopes that Art Brut has at least “got enough in their tank for another album or two.”  Now that they’ve released 3 albums, I would like to ask Mitchum if I’m still supposed to like Art Brut?



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