Album review: Art Brut’s ‘Brilliant! Tragic!’


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“I’m still here!” Eddie Argos exclaims on the new Art Brut album, and he’s probably just as surprised as the rest of us. When this English group emerged in 2004 with the delightfully self-explanatory “Formed a Band,” it had all the makings of a short-lived art-school prank; a subsequent full-length, “Bang Bang Rock & Roll,” somehow extended the charm of that debut single, with equally straightforward songs such as “Good Weekend” and “Moving to L.A.”

A half-decade later, Art Brut is still hammering away at its signature sound — think Jonathan Richman backed by AC/DC — but minus the spark that used to animate the act’s willfully circumscribed proposition. On the thoroughly lukewarm “Brilliant! Tragic!” Argos and his band mates are neither of those things, which feels like a betrayal of Art Brut’s early pronouncements on why people should start playing music in the first place. The jokes are reasonably funny and the riffs rock reasonably hard. But Argos never convinces you that his unlikely persistence is paying off.


Art Brut
“Brilliant! Tragic!”
Cooking Vinyl/The End
One and a 1/2 stars (Out of four)


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