Because they sound a little like The Daily Show's John Oliver fronting the Pixies in the spoken-punk-rap style of Flipper or Talking Heads' "Once in a Lifetime," Art Brut are inevitably judged as comedy rather than music—more Beatles press conference than Beatles album. But like fellow literary ranters the Hold Steady, these Londoners are far more original and compelling as rock 'n' roll than their familiar elements and delivery might initially suggest—especially once their lyrics gel as narrative. "Demons Out!," off this year's Art Brut vs. Satan, immortally declares, "The record-buying public shouldn't be voting," in the appalled tone of ignored artists everywhere—a joke as rich as anything off the latest Flight of the Conchords CD. But the next tune demands sincerity and mistakes in rock, and the one after that admits, by way of its chorus, "I can't believe I've only just discovered the Replacements," making the self-deprecation and autobiography plain. The Art Brut idea, going back to their 2004 breakthrough, "We Formed a Band," seems to be a running self-portrait on five-year delay, which means that soon they'll be singing "We Just Wrote a Song Called 'We Formed a Band.'" I wish their scrappy musicality went beyond indie-rock, but their gestalt is new, their spoken hooks ("I fought the floor and the floor won") as sure as any good rap, and they claim the Pixies' own Black Francis as producer on this third album's harmonies/guitars/bass/drums, achieving maximum pop thwack. With West Palm Beach's Surfer Blood. 18+.
Mon., Nov. 9, 8 p.m., 2009
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