Here to remind us of our insatiable, adolescent appetite for music, Art Brut are back together. What started as a break-up album and turned into an ‘in-love record’, Wham! Bang! Pow! Let’s Rock Out! is a collection of post-punk, poppy bangers that recall the distinctive sound that burst out of the Berlin-based band back in 2005. It’s been seven years since the group’s last LP and sees Argos’ self-referential, sincere narrative shape into poignant reflections of encompassing a youthful heart in a world that perpetually forces us to grow up.
Argos was careful to “live a life” before attempting a new album. “I moved to Berlin, I nearly died with Peritonitis. I was in hospital for a bit. I had a son, I had a relationship that broke up. I wrote a comic, a memoir, a musical and had a one man show,” he says. “I don't want to be that band who writes the sort of songs like "I don't like touring, touring is really boring". I think we needed a rest so some stuff could happen to me, to fill me up.”
Produced by award-winning folk musician Jim Moray, Wham! Bang! Pow! Let’s Rock Out! is Art Brut at their pop band best. Argos recorded his vocals in one or two takes, channeling the sporadic nature of his live performances while hand claps and ad-libbed jokes and howls produce a raw and authentic work. Morphing almost any mundane experience into a hilariously candid anecdote – whether it’s watching hipsters eat falafel on ‘Good Morning Berlin’, planning a better diet after a health scare on ‘Hospital!’ or dodging a train ticket inspector on ‘Schwarzfahrer’– Wham! Bang! Pow! Let’s Rock Out! is testament to the frontman’s unconventional approach to finding inspiration in just about anything.
“It’s not a game over, I got an extra life, I was born again, in a pure white light,” Argos trills on album opener, ‘Hooray!’, sparking an exuberant return to an industry where, if we’re honest, Art Brut never really fit in. On Wham! Bang! Pow! Let’s Rock Out!, Art Brut are creating anthems for outcasts.
With the departure of Jasper Future and Mikey Breyer, Art Brut are now made up of founding members Argos, Ian Catskilkin and Freddy Feedback while Toby Macfarlaine joins on guitar and Charlie Layton joins on drums. “I've known Charlie forever,” Argos explains. “He's also the drummer for The Wedding Present but we always wanted to be in a band together since we were kids. Now it's been about 25 years of knowing each other, he's finally in our group. Toby plays bass for Graham Coxon normally, he's in the band cos he’s an amazing guitar player and I love him. Ian found him and I looked at his twitter feed to see what he was about and he had posted 'A Day in the Life of Vivian Stanshall" from the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah band. I was like "yeah perfect! he's in!’’
Argos describes Art Brut as a democracy, with the new line-up adding new ideas to the pot. “Toby and Charlie both rock the fuck out which is what I like,” he adds. “Wham! Bang! Pow! Let’s Rock Out! is a bit more back to basics Art Brut. It's sort of the record I was trying to make after the first record and we didn't quite succeed. I think I'm more confident now and I know what I want. Not being mean about our other records but it's a poppy punk record which is what I wanted to do. I think speaking is a more honest way of getting what I want across. And I can't sing too.”
While he wrestles with the realisation that Art Brut are now, as he describes, a “heritage band”, Wham! Bang! Pow! Let’s Rock Out! sees the band producing their most accomplished and innovative work to date. “I think it's because we love it,” Argos says of the band’s longevity in the face of an ever-changing scene. “I've always been quite gregarious about being in a band. I thought it would fix everything. I can't imagine ever leaving Art Brut. It's quite addicting really, we're a fun band when we play live. There's a nice mix of that and heart, we're not ironic or anything. I think it's fun to be in Art Brut. Maybe that's why we can't stop?”