Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording Engineered by Mike Gentry
The cover of last year's Everyone Was In The French Resistance…Now's album, "Fixin' The Charts," features a commissioned painting of Art Brut leader Eddie Argos in front of a prop plane, dressed in a fancy, off-white, gray suit and coat - similar to what could be a still photograph taken from the memory books of Howard Hughes. It seems ripped from a bygone era, when air travel was newer and there was all kinds of romanticism surrounding the pursuit of the skies. It's a painting that seems to depict a moment in a relationship that was unparalleled and could be seen as the point where it all started to fall apart - no day was ever as good as that day, when we were in our beautiful clothes, in front of a private plane in an exotic location, spending our leisure time with strangers spotting us and declaring to themselves, "There goes a happy couple if I've ever seen one." While Argos' work with Art Brut - in his stylish and confident, but aloof lead singer way - hangs on the ideas of showmanship and the cool factors that run through the themes of superstardom and the rock 'n fuckin' roll lifestyle. The music and especially the lyrics are plays on the idea that anyone, with enough guts and passion, and a thimble-full of ability (not even talent, mind you) can be handed a live microphone plugged into a powerful and loud sound system and get up onto a stage to perform whatever they'd like to perform, do it however they'd like to do it and capture some of that brilliant high. Argos started as an aspiring rock singer and mostly through willpower, but also energetic soliloquies about the desire for fame and fortune in a field as silly and as hard as rock band/musical entertainment, he made the dream come mostly true with Art Brut. It's a study in - for Argos even more so than all of us listening - what can actually be accomplished should a dream be as vigorously followed, should one person or five people want it bad enough.
Everyone Was In The French Resistance…Now is an alter-ego of a similar stance, when someone just wants another person so much that they strong-arm the situation and they cling to it like a leech. The songs that Argos wrote for the album are different variations on a theme of crazy women and men who sometimes get to that level of instability in the face of crazy women. There are unmistakable messages and tells given that suggest that breaking off a relationship with any of the characters in these songs is going to be unsightly and messy. They will still have the residue of their pairing stuck to them like peanut butter or a stink. All the same, there is a dearness to everything that Argos writes. It oddly enough never sounds contrived or base, but rather the mumblings and concerns of someone in the throes of real dramas, involving average people who are going to have a hard time moving on, and there's just nothing that either of them can do about it. They'll be unable to shred that memory of them on the tarmac in Cuba, in front of that private plane, ready to scoot off to an expensive dinner and expensive wine. Argos sings on "Think Twice (It's Not Alright)," "You think we're still gonna be friendly/Well, let me tell you how it's gonna be/Every now and then, we'll sneak a look/We'll spot each through Twitter or Facebook/I hope you don't ever find a way/To see how many times I've viewed your page/I thought we were in the same book/It turns out I was just a footnote/And you give yourself away/I can't live/With or without you." He sings the last part , borrowing Bono's take on the feeling and we're set adrift in that ocean of unsolvable passion.