Album Reviews

Art Brut – Top Of The Pops

on April 15, 2013, 12:01am
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On “We Make Pop Music”, one of two unreleased tracks on the best-of and more compilation from meta-pop act Art Brut, Eddie Argos shout-sings the chorus: “we make pop music/ guitar based pop music/ for people who don’t like people.” The band started out exhilarated by the mere fact of having “formed a band,” and that wide-eyed, self-deprecating, unabashed love of rock and its power to make shitty life better soaks through every inch of Top of The Pops, like a spilled whiskey and coke on the latest issue of The Flash.

The expansive compilation acts as an Art Brut manifesto, the first disc picking out a handful of songs from each of the band’s four LPs, and the second comprised of B-sides, alternate takes, and covers “rescued” from the band’s “vault.” The sum of these parts is a strange blend of life-affirming misanthropy, Argos the consummate lone wolf slacker who also loves being with people (ladies in particular, “Emily Kane” to be even more specific) and finds life’s meaning in “Modern Art”.

This condensed version of Art Brut puts things in a chronological context, the band’s development from rowdy party to hungover morning, from “Good Weekend” to “Lost Weekend”, looking for love and rock ‘n’ roll around every corner. The mock-surf “Arizona Bay” and the aforementioned “We Make Pop Music” round out the first disc, proving that no matter how far they’ve come, they’re still the same fun-loving schmucks, thanks to Ian Catskilkin’s lightning bolt riffs and Freddy Feedback’s thundering bass. There’s a taste of their live intensity in a recording from Berlin Live, their reverence of art pop history in a faithful rendition of The Cure’s “Catch”, and their softer side on the “woo-ooh” acoustic ballad “About Time”.

The second disc is largely aimed at hardcore Art Brut fans, and the first is composed of material those fans have memorized and shouted along to for years. That said, Top of the Pops wonderfully captures the essence of a band that’s produce plenty a “Direct Hit”, Art Brut’s anthemic denial of anxiety and passion for fun documented in full.

Essential Tracks: ”Formed A Band”, “Direct Hit”, and “Modern Art (Recorded For Berlin Live)”

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