British buzz bands seem cursed to sophomore slump in the U.S. as their newness settles into familiarity. With It's A Bit Complicated, the curse claims another victim: Although the album has all the elements that made Art Brut's debut, Bang Bang Rock & Roll, so charming, the impact has softened.
That shortchanges the band, whose members have grown considerably as players since Bang Bang. Complicated has numerous musical passages—particularly in "Pump Up The Volume," "Post Soothing Out," and "Blame It On The Trains"—that give the group's shambling guitar-pop a more sophisticated melodic sensibility, and the songs sound more confident. Still, they begin to sound alike, which Eddie Argos' limited, talked-sung vocals exacerbate. Lyrically, Argos is in fine form, writing zingers destined to become conversational shorthand among Art Brut fans, like "Nag Nag Nag Nag"'s couplet "Wet trousers in the washing machine / but I'd rather be damp than seen in jeans."
With Argos still writing gems and the band stepping up musically, Complicated should be as irresistible as its predecessor. For newcomers, it may be. For fans, it's still enjoyable, but familiar. "People in love lie around and get fat / I didn't want us to end up like that," Argos sings on "People In Love." With Complicated, Art Brut hasn't gotten complacent and fat, but it has put on a few pounds.