Art Brut and Papa Roach reviewed this week. Worth the investment or tunes to dodge, here's what we thought
5/5 Art Brut Vs. Satan ‘If it ain’t broke don’t fix it’ has always seemed a repellant maxim to use in regard to art. Playing it safe has no place here. Art, after all, ought to be about experimentation and evolution – and what’s experimentation without a few explosions? And when you’re talking about a band with ‘art’ in its name, well…
With that in mind, we feel a little guilty about praising Art Brut’s third offering. No matter how you look at it, you’d be hard pushed to call Art Brut Vs. Satan a major development in the punk-pop outfit’s sound. Eddie Argos’s charmingly un-musical vocals and those catchy riffs are still in place, and crashy backing guitars are still plucked into shape by Ian Catskilkin’s melodic lead strumming.
And then there’re the lyrics: still written by Argos as wryly humorous confessionals, they also tread old ground: sexual insecurity (‘Am I Normal?’), childhood memories (‘Summer Job’), celebrations of the minutiae of life (‘The Passenger’) and so on. Tellingly, the only un-Art-Brut song on the album (or, indeed, ever) is ‘Mysterious Bruises’, a lumbering, eight-minute echoey monster heavily influenced by producer Black Francis, whose done-in-one-take aesthetic steers the album back towards the lo-fi sensibility of 2005 debut Bang Bang Rock & Roll.
But you know what? It doesn’t matter. Few can rival Art Brut’s knack for creating exuberant, anthemic pop excellence, and it’s hard to blame them for playing to their strengths. So they haven’t progressed. So what? They still ain’t broke, and Art Brut Vs. Satan is the most raw fun we’ve had from a CD in a long, long time. James Wilkinson Available from www.7digital.com or to order in stores.
3/5 Metamorphosis You remember Papa Roach, right? It’s been nearly a decade since their breakthrough single, nu-metal angst anthem ‘Last Resort’, had black-clad teens earnestly singing nonsensical lines like ‘don’t give a f*** if I cut my arm bleeding’. Then the nu-metal bubble burst, and a bunch of people with even sillier hair started bleating and whimpering instead of screaming and rapping. Emo had arrived.
Papa Roach have released three albums since then, each sounding progressively more emo and proportionately less interesting. But from the very first screech of ‘This is a battle call!’ on opener ‘Change Or Die’, it’s clear Metamorphosis marks a return to the heavier edge of old – and is a hell of a lot better for it.
The band’s re-invention is by no means perfect. The extended diss of spoiled LA socialites in ‘Hollywood Whores’ feels at least two years too late (did they not see Pink’s ‘Stupid Girls’ video?), and around the middle of the record they slip back into bad habits with some particularly schmaltzy emo mush – sample line: ‘The hardest ones to love/Are the ones who need it most’. Deep. But there are some great moments of gratifyingly clichéd rock ’n’ roll too, notably a gloriously sleazy riff on ‘I Almost Told You That I Loved You’ and the daft chorus in ‘Nights Of Love’ about ‘dancing with the devil in the midnight sun’. You can practically hear the tight leather trousers.
Will anyone still remember Papa Roach in 10 years’ time? Probably not. But for now this is 45 minutes of enjoyably brainless hard rock. Laura Chubb Available in stores.