Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Brendan Kiefer
Despite cries to the contrary, there's very little mockery in Art Brut's music. Squealing with delight about falling into puppy love (seeing a girl naked for the first time we'll call PG-13 puppy love, how bout?) or getting to shred on a guitar or command a microphone in front of a sea or small brook of people is, so help Eddie Argos, the truth of his being. He's always subscribed to that flutter that new love and the undeniable power of rock and roll ignite in a body. It's not manufactured and never duplicated. It just can't be, for the manipulation of it is a soiling of the pure spirit. Argos gets that and he tries and tries to throw that back at us, to make us believe to, to send us out seeking our own rock and roll savior, and some continue to abandon the suggestion as coming from a guy whom they see as a caricature. It's disappointing because It's A Bit Complicated, the English band's sophomore record is another carrier pigeon with all of the awe and showiness of a true believer still packed in the barrel of a cocked and ready to fire rifle. It gets boozy and sloppy and altogether rumpus, but that's exactly the way it should play out. Argos points the skeptical finger at poseurs. He recognizes how hard he falls for girls and how quickly he rebounds - about two weeks with the help of copious amounts of alcohol - and he's provided an extraordinarily dead-on line in describing what he does and how he lives, with the burning excitement and lacklusterness of it all summed up in singing, "I know what it looks like and I can tell you're not impressed/I don't know what I'm doing, but it's feeling like success." As Argos reads from a short story entitled, "William & The Begging Letter" from William & Air Raid Precautions by Richmal Crompton, first published in 1939, we're invited into a little boy's mind as he contemplates the exciting prospect of money for nothing through the cunning penmanship and passionate writings of a con artist who happens to be handy with words. The letters, like the ones that clog our span filters claiming to know exactly what it's like to be told in the sack that you've got a short one or that the Queen of Zimbabwe needs our immediate financial assistance, are written for quick and illegitimate profit, preying on the unsuspecting people of large bank accounts. The protagonist dreams of being able to make 3K a year from the begging letters that he writes, insisting that he, his wife, his children, his mother and father are all deaf and dumb - an affliction that is extremely difficult to correct and will surely leave them all deader than a door nail if help doesn't come along soon. It's a fascinating choice for a guy like Argos, who already feels like he's getting away with murder in playing the pop music he loves for a living.