Less annoying than the last album and also tamer, Art Brut’s It’s a Bit Complicated is worth it just to know what it’s like to be Eddie Argos for an hour. The sophomore effort from twee punk’s darlings of brutal honesty has both less and more than its predecessor, Bang Bang Rock and Roll. The same lo-fi sense of humor is there, with a cheeky wit and casual rhymes. But there’s a move towards a more poppy sound, easier to listen to than the more punk Bang Bang Rock and Roll. Which also means that the songs, though less grating as a whole, lack that certain reckless abandon that set Art apart. Bang Bang could get annoying, let’s admit it, but that screaming-rant-ish-ness was what made songs like “Modern Art” and “Formed a Band” so cool. It’s a Bit Complicated relies more on the ear-friendly pop-like tones of “Emily Kane”, the cutest, sappiest and one of the most popular songs off the first album.
Not that it’s actually pop. It’s still the same ol’ frontman Argos brandishing his cockney tongue in a talky-singy recitative. The same punk rock guitars playing background, the same silly rhymes and “this is what I did today” mentality. Apparently rock stars in Britain still get bored on Sunday nights, worry about the rent and break up with their girlfriends for no particular reason.
Which doesn’t mean it’s not brilliant. To start quoting the lyrical gems would mean never stopping. Look at his excuse for a breakup: “people in love / sit around and get fat / I never wanted us / to end up like that.” I could go on forever, and so, it seems, could he. The quotable lines don’t stop coming, which makes me think that he could produce five more listenable albums just like this without having to change a thing.
Like so few of his contemporaries, Argos seems to have tapped into a part of his brain that excretes effortless ease, producing exactly what he wants to be producing, exactly the way he imagines it.