London's Art Brut are unquestionably the best band in the current UK meta-rock scene. You know meta-rock: groups of hip young fashion plates writing songs about being hip young fashion plates writing songs (occasionally about being hip young fashion plates...). Second best are the Cribs, a trio of Wakefield brothers whose "Hey Scenesters!" sounds exactly like the Pixies doing Art Brut's "Formed a Band." Bronze goes to either Brakes or the Rakes. (This business with the names has to have been premeditated.) Led by a guy who's played keyboards for British Sea Power, Brighton-based Brakes are funnier; their "Heard About Your Band" sounds exactly like Bobcat Goldthwait doing Art Brut's "Formed a Band." But the Rakes have better riffs.
Nearly every song on Capture/Release, the London foursome's debut full-length (out since last summer in England), pivots on a sleek but tough little guitar figure you'll swear you half-remember from some old Wire record. Matthew Swinnerton must've been born with that jagged post-punk downstroke coded in his bones. Though it's gratifying to hear Swinnerton run the show in cuts like "22 Grand Job," which the guitarist drives with an arpeggio that revolves as quickly as singer Alan Donohoe wishes the office clock would, Capture really cooks when Swinnerton's bandmates try to rein him in. In "Open Book," for instance, they surround his steel wool jabs with Motown finger snaps, a Squeeze bass line, even a trumpet part. Yet what you identify with is the riff, yearning to be free.