Though widely available as an import and through legal download services for some time, Art Brut's debut, Bang Bang Rock & Roll, has been kept off American shelves by the vagaries of the record industry until recently. That's a strange fate for a band so dependent on immediacy. The legend goes that Art Brut assembled, then wrote the song "Formed A Band" ("Look at us, we formed a band!") to mark the occasion, and on almost every track, singer Eddie Argos seems just to be going off on whatever first crosses his mind.
But sometimes immediacy has a pretty good shelf life, and now is as good a time as any to catch up with Art Brut, particularly since there's more to Bang Bang than the band's just-tossing-it-off attitude suggests. Argos' lyrics are funny, but they aren't jokes. There's a skill to playing music that's simultaneously this propulsive and openhearted, real poignancy to "Emily Kane," a lament for a teen-years girlfriend, and a genuine wish for escape beneath "Moving To L.A." (in which Argos fantasizes about "drinking Hennessy with Morrissey"). It's been a while since they first formed a band, but they still command attention.