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Art Brut: Art Brut vs. Satan (Downtown)

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"Life is especially hard / When no one trusts you with a credit card / I love the taste of cereal / I have it for almost every meal."

These are the opening lines from "DC Comics and Chocolate Milkshakes," delivered by Eddie Argos in his typical spoken-rant fashion. The song, a thrilling ode to youthful nostalgia, perfectly illustrates Art Brut's revitalized energy on the band's third album, Art Brut vs. Satan.

Produced by Pixies frontman Frank Black, Art Brut vs. Satan succeeds on adrenalized live takes and Argos' arch, droll lyrics. Guitarists Jasper Future and Ian Catskilkin are forces, executing blazing punk riffs ("Alcoholics Unanimous"), surf rock ("Twist and Shout") and classic rock solos ("Summer Job") with deft agility.

The album's charms are many. There's a trilogy of music-themed songs placed smartly in the middle—when many albums sag—that are, thanks to Argos, observational treats. "Demons Out!" is a lamenting anthem ("How am I supposed to sleep at night / When no one likes the music we write?"); "Slap Dash for No Cash" attacks glossy indie acts that imitate U2 (warning Brian Eno to cool his warm jets); "The Replacements" is a shaggy ode to Argos' late discovery of that Minnesota outfit. Plus, the nearly eight-minute closer, "Mysterious Bruises," is an impressive feat of wit and endurance.

Here is an album not only worthy of praise, but demanding of it, as Argos notes in "Demons Out!": "We're doing this for you / So you better be grateful."

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