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Spend the Weekend with Art Brut

November 13th, 2009

Eddie Argos of Art Brut is not kidding. That is the first thing to know: He is not kidding. At all. He is a new style of frontman in a new-style rock band, all aimed at being able to kill hype, crush backlash and traffic in an irony so deep that it finds pay-dirt seriousness. On Art Brut’s first record, the appropriately titled Bang Bang Rock & Roll, released in 2005, Argos waxed philosophical about this new approach: “And yes, this is my singing voice/ It’s not irony/ It’s not rock and roll/ We’re just talking to the kids.”

It wasn’t quite Will Ferrell’s Burgundy-isms (“Milk was a bad choice.”)—true statements that end up being funny. Argos was more in the market of convincing us that serious statements could actually be serious again. It was a challenge, how to take potentially ironic lyrics like “Modern art makes me/ Want to rock out” seriously, but anyone who has seen the band live already knows Argos is very much not kidding. Even when he is being funny, taking on the absurd rise of Kings of Leon, you get the sense that his goal is to do something more difficult: Acknowledge the absurdity of rock and roll without sneering at the kids he wants to move. All this manages to make the world safe for humor and straight faces each, but at no point is it a laughing matter. It’s just talking to the kids. —Geoff Nelson

(Art Brut plays Brooklyn Bowl tonight and The Bowery Ballroom on Sunday. See them, above, playing “DC Comics and Chocolate Milkshake,” off their newest disc, Art Brut vs. Satan, in studio for Seattle’s KEXP.)