Suggest to Eddie Argos that he seems equally obsessed with both sex and music on Art Brut's sophomore album, It's a Bit Complicated, and he won't disagree.
"Umm, what was that first thing you said? Sex?" asks Argos, speaking from his London flat in an accent that almost requires an interpreter. "Um, yeah. I want my lyrics to sound like we're having a conversation. Like we're sitting in the pub and having a chat. And those are the kind of things that we'd be talking about. I'm obsessed with music. So if we were sitting there drinking, we'd be talking about sex and records and stuff."
Based on It's a Bit Complicated, spending an afternoon getting soused with Argos would be more fun than the U.K. version of The Office. Coming on like Ricky Gervais's rock-fixated wingman, the singer is the major reason Art Brut's garage-y brand of punch-drunk art wave is as hilarious as it is strangely danceable. As his band makes a racket that sounds like the Fall taking the piss out of Blur, Argos rambles on about bathing in saucepans in English squats ("I Will Survive") and lying next to a sleeping girlfriend he desperately would rather be boning–if only because he's worried that her ex-boyfriends did a better job of it ("Jealous Guy").
But the singer is dead serious about his love of rock 'n' roll. On the morning we speak, he's just woken up, having deejayed for charity the night before. Forget block-rocking beats and Astralwerks rarities–he proudly spun the beer-and-potatoes likes of the Hold Steady for the assembled punters. Any further doubts about just how passionate he is about music are erased by It's a Bit Complicated tracks like "Pump Up the Volume" and "Sound of Summer". The former has him wondering if there's a tactful way to break away mid-kiss to turn up the stereo; the latter celebrates the joy of making mixed cassettes for a loved one, with the punch line being "Tabs pushed off/So you can't tape over it ever."
Argos notably named at least half the songs on It's a Bit Complicated after numbers made popular by acts considerably more famous than Art Brut, with the shortlist including John Lennon ("Jealous Guy") and MARRS ("Pump Up the Volume"). Predictably, he's unclear why people find his cheekiness so amusing.
"I remember our manager phoning me up and going, 'Eddie, umm, your song "I Will Survive", are those your lyrics in there or is there a sample?' I was like 'A sample of what?' So he reminded me about the really famous Gloria Gaynor song, which I'd completely forgotten about. I figured, well, once you've broken that barrier with song names, you might as well continue."
Laughing at his own cleverness, Argos continues. "'Pump Up the Volume' was like a joke to myself; I was like, 'Fuck it.' And then when you've got a song about being jealous, you don't call it 'Jealous Man' or 'Jealous Fella'. When you think of it like that, I had to go with 'Jealous Guy'."
Art Brut plays Richard's on Richards on Monday (September 3).