As much as people deservedly loved Art Brut when they first emerged in 2005, no one really thought they could keep going for very long. Some were even shocked the band could stay charming for a full album. After all, Art Brut’s game-changing song was called "Formed a Band," not "Sustained a Band." The band was a return to the punk idea of being a bunch of music fans that one day decided, "Why not us?" Yet, with enough brains, they produced arguably this decade’s least offensive ironic masterpiece with Bang Bang Rock ‘N’ Roll.
A collaboration between Art Brut and Frank Black is a marriage made in witty, punky heaven, and while Art Brut vs. Satan may not quite live up to fans' wildest fantasies -- say, a cross between "Formed a Band" and "Debaser" -- having Black produce this album was just what the band needed. Despite its bright moments, It's a Bit Complicated lived up to its name, occasionally sounding a little studied and stifled.
Spoiler alert: Art Brut lose. Of course they do. Tramps like former Art Brut tourmates Hold Steady were born to run around wearing baseball jerseys in front of Counting Crows fans (and good for them!). Art Brut were born to lose: How could they ever improve on the clumsy meta-punk rush of their first single, "Formed a Band"? They arrived almost fully formed.
Art Brut Vs. Satan could have just as easily been called Bang Bang Rock and Roll III. The band is still just as capable of hanging with the punks as they are with the indie kids, Eddie Argos is still barking drunken blog posts instead of singing them, and all songs—excepting seven-minute closer “Mysterious Bruises”—still come in nice, manageable blocks of verse-chorus.
Art Brut frontman Eddie Argos must be sick to the back teeth of Lily Allen. She cooks up half-baked rhymes about what it’s like to be in your twenties in the UK and thanks to a wave of patronage and suspicions of nepotism, she’s on magazine covers the length and breadth of the country and sells albums by the bucketload. Argos performs the same trick with more wit, insight and humility and could barely get arrested in his homeland.Strangely for a man whose lyrics, singing style and arsenal of cultural references are so utterly British, Art Brut have had a fair amount of success in Germany.