In Opening Track, we take an early look at a forthcoming record that we’re excited about. Today, we check out the new album by post-punk smart-asses Art Brut, who will release Brilliant! Tragic! on May 24 in the U.S. on Downtown Records.
Why we’re excited: Ever since its endearing 2005 debut Bang Bang Rock & Roll, Art Brut has been the go-to band for sensitive, sarcastic, self-aware rock geeks. We’re guessing there’s still at least a few of those out there in A.V. Club land.
What we’ve heard: Brilliant! Tragic! reunited Art Brut with producer Frank Black, who helmed 2009’s Art Brut vs. Satan. Recorded in Salem, Oregon, Brilliant! actually sounds a bit a times like Black’s most famous band, with the subterranean basslines, jagged guitar riffs, and whisper-to-a-scream vocals we all know and love from those old Pixies records on highlights like “Bad Comedian” and “Martin Kemp.” Frontman Eddie Argos has credited Black—with his usual mix of irony and sincerity—with teaching him how to sing on this record. “Only took four albums to start singing, not bad.”
While Art Brut vs. Satan “was all four to the floor rock out,” Argos has said in interviews that “this time there are a few songs to let you catch your breath so when we do rock the fuck out again it hits home harder.” The plaintive “Ice Hockey” even prominently features an acoustic guitar before building to a rousing finish.
On the “rocking the fuck out" tip, there’s “Axl Rose,” where Argos insists that “when the world’s got you by the fucking throat, who do you want in your corner? Axl Rose.” As Argos recently explained, “you don’t want Rivers Cuomo defending you. Axl Rose is the guy who will stand up for you.” Apparently Black agreed with that assessment. “It’s funny, when I was recording the song, and being with Frank Black and him going, ‘you know, if there’s one thing you can say about Axl, it’s that he tells people to fuck off.’ It was pretty amazing having a conversation with Black Francis about, you know, Axl Rose.”
Have a listen: Check out the video for “Lost Weekend” off of Brilliant! Tragic!