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Art Brut scores a direct hit in 'Complicated'

Allow me to share some of the wisdom Eddie Argos displays on Art Brut's sophomore album, "It's a Bit Complicated":

Eddie Argos on life: "Life is what you make it, and I've made mine a mess."
Eddie Argos on love: "To every girl that's ever been with me: I got over you all ... eventually."
Eddie Argos on his past: "All the best pop songs are girl meets boy, and there wasn't one song that I didn't enjoy, but I lacked confidence when I was young, so things didn't turn out the way they get sung."
Eddie Argos on maturity: "I'm ignoring all my grown-up problems, because I've got no idea how to solve them."
Eddie Argos on embracing the day: "Unplug the alarm, or at least press reset ... there's no way I'm getting up yet."
The list goes on and on. There's no better way to express what's so great about Art Brut than to simply show the sharp wit and humor they display in their songs. Their 2005 debut, "Bang Bang Rock & Roll," had a simple but wonderful approach: Clever, overtly ironic lyrics laid over loud punk, with every song having at least one line that you couldn't help but sing along to every time. It was like a hybrid of the sardonic quirkiness of Talking Heads and the intensely personal, observant nerdiness of early Weezer, assuming that made any sense at all. "It's a Bit Complicated" takes a fairly similar approach to equally enjoyable results. The only notable difference is that "Complicated" has a decidedly more pop-oriented sound: The guitars are cleaner, the melodies slightly brighter, the songs sound a bit less messy, and there's even a horn solo and a few semi-impressive guitar solos thrown in.
Some may see the subtle change as an improvement and others won't, but regardless, Art Brut is every bit as lovable here as they were on "Rock & Roll." Frontman Eddie Argos is the main attraction here: He doesn't so much sing as just lay his explicitly British accent over the songs, which helps add layer of freeloader attitude to the music. His lyrics, as demonstrated, are equally comical and quotable, with so many great throwaway lines that you find something new to smirk at with every listen. His songs aren't quite as personal here as they were on "Rock & Roll," which featured a to-the-second measurement of how long it had been since he'd seen the high school girlfriend he never quite got over. Still, his droll touch is evident on triumphant slacker anthems like "Nag Nag Nag Nag" and "I Will Survive," the bittersweet and surprisingly comforting breakup track "People in Love," the third-person courtship drama "Direct Hit," and odes to sleeping in late, making the perfect mix tape, and the ethics of pausing a makeout session to turn up a pop song (a major conflict in the Art Brut world).
"It's a Bit Complicated" is an album where every track seems essential, and every listen seems to reveal something new to like. As much as the guys in Art Brut think of themselves as total slackers, it'll be hard to downplay the excellence of their second compulsively listenable and endlessly fun release.

DOWNLOAD: "Direct Hit," "Nag Nag Nag Nag"

Jason Silverstein is a junior at Williamsville North.

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