The enigmatic Eddie Argos and his DIY punk crew are one of music’s loveable bands. He doesn’t sing, he just imparts his own little stories into the mic and gets away with it. Genius.
Date: May 4, 2009
Venue: Rescue Rooms
Art Brut’s enigmatic show man and leading force Eddie Argos together with his jolly mob of musical miscreants have long been torch-bearers for awkward outsider pop.
Like The Fall fronted by a more rotund and spec-less Jarvis Cocker, who in fact resembles an odd Peter Kay character or, more weirdly, a chubby Alan Partridge, their shtick is a devious concoction of frank ranting performance poetry backed with proper indie guitar music, the type of indie guitar music which ignited Britpop all those years ago but is considered too eccentric for the tepid charts these days.
It’s the old-fashioned brand of indie – almost punk in fact – that corporate chin-scratchers and T4 presenters leave well alone for being too indie, too fey or too, like, weird or whatever dude. Basically it’s not The Kooks, thank the Lord.
You see Argos is cool but not cool. He’s a geek; a hopeless romantic whose ruminations on sexual misadventure (Rusted Guns of Milan, In A Rush) and love and loss (the majority of the set) endear him to nerds everywhere. You can’t fail to reminisce about the time when you yourself were a hapless teenager holding hands with the girl next door. We all know an Emily Kane, and Argos’s brilliantly conceived lyrics take us right back to her.
Elsewhere we’re transported back to his childhood on the wonderfully retrospective DC Comics and Chocolate Milkshake; hilarious odes to youthful mishaps, record collection faux-pas (the genius The Replacements is a song about discovering seminal slacker rockers The Replacements too late) and the more tedious things in life.
His personal, biting and rhetorical form of delivery is an acquired taste, but his tales are witty and droll. He’s like a stand-up comic, spouting improvised bluster and amusing introductions to his songs. During Modern Art he takes his impromptu bombast into the audience, parting the crowd like a modern-day art-punk Moses preaching about Parisian art, while on Bad Weekend he makes his way to the bar, orders a pint – which he pays for – and derides Kings Of Leon’s Sex On Fire and The Killers’ Human for being blots on popular culture.
All of Argos’s tales are augmented wholesomely by fervent and precise riffs, thumping drumming and, in Freddie Feedback, a glamorous Kim Deal on bass.
New album Art Brut versus Satan gets a good airing, but it’s the inspiring, triumphantly proud Formed A Band which is savoured the most. It starts with the famous riff from AC/DC’s Back In Black before segueing perfectly into its defiant onslaught. “Look at us… we formed a band”, it announced back in 2004, and it’s still a cocksure, blistering rock song now.
So yes, that is his singing voice, it’s not irony. He really does dress like a maverick 70s cop and he really is that risible. The geeks shall inherit the earth. Until then they have Art Brut.