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Regifted rock & roll

Art Brut - Bang Bang Rock & Roll
(Downtown Records)
3 1/2 stars (out of 5 stars)
Reviewed: May 3, 2006
Art Brut

Review by Tony Bonyata

"Stop buying your records from the supermarket. They only sell records that have charted, and Art Brut, we've only just started," howls Art Brut's Eddie Argos on the opening track "Formed A Band" from their debut album Bang Bang Rock & Roll. And from the spastic, often-humorous post-punk that fills out this high-energy collection of wham-bam-thank-you-Ma'am rock that you're not likely to find in the aisles of Wal-Mart, it's some pretty sound advice.

As their name would imply, this London-based quintet delivers the sound of post-modern art beat with the blunt end of a stick; songs built on three chords, chugging guitars, nervous, jerky vocals spoken and spat with a cockney snarl in lieu of actual singing and lyrical content which is sophomorically fun and delivered with tongue firmly in cheek.

Similar to other new acts such as Bloc Party, Kaiser Chiefs and Futureheads, Art Brut taps into the angular punk of late '70s rockers Gang of Four, but with explosive numbers such as "Modern Art" and the quirky "My Little Brother" (both songs that examines the phenomenon of the power of rock & rock), along with the poppy "Emily Kane" that merrily skips in time with The Kinks' English pop eccentricities, this group stands above the pack of other bands regurgitating the sounds of late '70s danceble post-punk.

For a band that is supposedly built on modern art philosophies, however, (Argos, an obsessed fan of Vincent Van Gogh, at one point loudly swoons, "I'm looking at a Hockney, and wow, there's something amazing about that blue") they take a swipe at punk rock's ground zero on the album's title track when they state that they "can't stand the sound of the Velvet Underground" without realizing that, like it or not, virtually any underground, alternative or indie rock act is no more than four degrees of separation from Lou Reed and The Velvets.

Far from anything really new, Art Brut still manages to dress up their repackaged rock & roll with a ribbon colorful enough to stand out from the many other groups that have been regifting the same old content over the last couple of years.

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