Once upon a time, Eddie Argos promised not to sing about the things he likes to sing about. “No more songs about sex and drugs and rock ’n’ roll,” he blustered on 2006’s Bang Bang Rock & Roll. “It’s boooring.” Context helps: He was ribbing The Velvet Underground for glamorizing all of the above. Or he was kidding, because Argos almost exclusively writes songs about sex, drugs, and rock ’n’ roll; he just never sounds glamorous.
That’s especially true on Art Brut’s Frank Black-produced third album, in which hangovers, blackouts, and regrettable hookups populate a good chunk of Argos’ hilarious, blurted narratives. (Sample nerd-satisfying zinger: “I fought the floor and the floor won.”) If those sound like traditional Art Brut fascinations, look closer: Argos has shifted his focus from thrill-seeking to its consequences—and more pointedly, its motives. That’s almost what he did on 2007’s It’s A Bit Complicated¸ but then he seemed more interested in generalizing about his awkward, reckless life than understanding it or making it all that humorous. And while it’s misleading to call an album “mature” when it plunders rock history for riffs and features an ode to comic books, Argos has done some growing up. The flipside of debauchery is a classic brew of loneliness, insecurity, mortality, and hope—all of which, Argos increasingly realizes, can be pretty funny.