Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Art Brut: Art Brut vs. Satan [Downtown, 2009]
Remember how "Formed a Band" seemed so conceptual--a joke about an idea for a song? Eddie Argos claims it was autobiographical--claims that Art Brut's entire debut album, created when he was 25, was based on his 17-year-old self. Two years later, he goes on, the more forced-seeming It's a Bit Complicated was based on him at 19, when he must have been pretty dumb around girls. At 29, he doesn't leave himself that out: "DC comics and chocolate milkshake/Even though I'm 28" rhymes with "I guess I'm just developing late." True, the waiter or delivery man who supposedly sings that song has lacked Argos's career opportunities. But surely it's Argos-the-artist, meaning the man himself, doing a number on U2 in the studio notes "Slap Dash for No Cash"--"I love the sound of background noise/I want to hear the crack in the singer's voice"--or denying record buyers the vote in "Demons Out!" How many great songs about rock and roll can one man write before he gets tiresome? We may find out. A-