Though I think it may be a little off the mark, I can't quite help but think that the best way to approach Art Brut—one of London's most promising pop exports in some time—is with something of a back-handed comparison: Art Brut are something like a low-rent the Fall. Which isn't to say that Art Brut necessarily sound like the Fall—partly because the Fall don't exactly "sound like" anything, really—but conceptually speaking, there are a number of superficial similarities that somehow make the two inseparable in my mind. Both are dripping with snot-nosed British humor, both rely heavily on the chant-like power of lyrical repetition, and most apparently, both are driven by charismatic frontmen whose monologues are performed for the most part without even the suggestion of singing.
That said, it's also important to stress the "low-rent" qualifier of that comparison—Art Brut are a pop band after all, who primarily concern themselves with palatable three-minute pop songs about ex-girlfriends, rock 'n' roll, and, appropriately, being in a band. Their debut full-length, last year's Bang Bang Rock & Roll, is packed to the gills with four-on-the-floor football chants with nary an inscrutable lyric throughout. And yet, I've come to think of Art Brut frontman Eddie Argos as a sort of bubblegum Mark E. Smith—striking the sort of pose that Smith might have had he spent his teen years pouring over NME instead of Camus.
As their initial pop star manifesto, Bang Bang's opening track and first single—the incessant "Formed a Band"—outlines virtually all of their stadium aspirations in obsessive detail: They're going to, among other things, write a song as "universal as 'Happy Birthday'" that will inevitably make "Israel and Palestine get along." Sure, the pop star obsessions alternate between the cheekily clever and the dunderheaded in a balance that's altogether charming, if not completely substantial. But how can you really fault a band that so keenly filters the endlessly alien spirit of the Fall into palatable, three-minute, Top of The Pops-ready gems? I mean, can you?