Wham! Bang! Pow! Let's Rock Out!
Wham! Bang! Pow! Let's Rock Out! is a typically brash, daft, thoroughly life affirming album title, and the contents only solidify that attitude. Opening with the ridiculous/straight to the point "Hooray!" the band seem to be dead set on finding the positives in life, albeit with some bumps on the road. The "extra life" Eddie Argos talks about in "Hooray!" itself could be read as a comment on his band, his relationship status or his actual life (Argos was recently hospitalised with Peritonitis) and the very next track "I Hope You're Very Happy Together" mixes glorious Brit-pop brass with a darkly comical take on the well trodden break-up song. Some songs here reference past glories, such as the superb "She Kissed Me (And It Felt Like A Hit)" which not only re-purposes Argos' famous "Top of the Pops" line, but has a memorable crunching guitar riff that surpasses some of their early classics. It also features an absolutely top notch spoken word solo which channels the impassioned romantic soul of Kevin Rowland. Other tracks reflect Argos' relocation from Camden to Berlin ("Good Morning Berlin" and "Schwarzfahrer" being the most blatant examples) but they are all grounded in a reality which pretty much anyone can relate to. Hospitalisation, booze, careers, relationships, annoying tourists, falafel, growing up/not growing up are all here and are all rich pickings for Argos' fertile storytelling mind. Musically speaking, Wham! Bang! Pow! Let's Rock Out! is almost exclusively on the front foot, it has a certain youthful verve to it, perhaps surprisingly seeing as this is Art Brut's fifth album in their 15 year career. The aforementioned "Good Morning Berlin" is one of the few exceptions to this rule, with a more slowed down and contemplative mood and message, but even here we get a nice jangly guitar hook to lighten the mood. "Awkward Breakfast" is, for the most part, textbook Art Brut but the chorus is delightfully odd and perfectly over the top, it almost sounds as if Sparks have been on production duties (it was actually produced by folk musician Jim Moray). Generally speaking though this album is at absolute odds to 99% of the music I've heard this past year. It's got a swagger, but it's a dry kind of swagger, it's full of hooks and ear-worms and it's an utter joy from start to finish. Welcome back Art Brut.