Eddie Argos is the lead singer of British freak-rockers Art Brut, where he roars about things that only Oxford Grads might understand. Also, Eddie Argos is a member of British glam undergrounders Glam Chops, where he paints his face green and wears feather boas.
Which is why it’s really understandable that Argos’ solo effort, “Everybody Was in the French Resistance… Now!” sounds like something Boy George would write after attending his first Philosophy 101 class.
Catchy like nursery rhymes and snarky like the best break-up letters, Argos has created something just as weird as he’s made as a member of Art Brut in the past, with a new twist. Apparently, in between touring and writing and painting, Argos has found time to hate. And hate he does, bellowing cheeky lyrics at pop stars and pop star wannabes throughout what he calls his “response” album.
Luckily, even if you’ve got no idea who or what he’s responding to, it’s easy to enjoy Argos’ rage toward all things non-arty, as it’s done in the most likeable way, a mix of classical piano and 60s bouffant-and-tambourine backing.
“Creeque Allies” is a French history lesson from the hippest professor you’ll ever meet, reminiscent of Halloween classic “The Monster Mash” but decidedly less throw-the-iPod-out-the-window annoying.
Argos is definitely well-read, but he’s schooled in the ways of love, too, as expressed throughout the rest of the album. “(I’m So) Waldo P Emerson Jones” is cheeky retribution to anyone who finds solace in tanning and small fluffy dogs, while “Hey! It’s Jimmy Mack” pays homage to 60s soul both in its sound and vicious “What has he got that I haven’t?” banter.
This music would find its biggest fan in Samantha Baker, Molly Ringwald’s character in “16 Candles,” both the music and the character indifferent to being cool and, incidentally, all the cooler because of it. “So they forgot your fucking birthday?” asks Argos. Screw it and light up a cigarette. If you subscribe to Argos’ manifesto, everything always seems better after you swear and blow smoke at it, even if Jake Ryan never shows up to make things better.
Whether you dig his beat poet delivery or not, you’ve gotta give Argos credit for one thing: He knows how to update that old time rock n’ roll with a bit of British humor and a hefty dose of made-in-America cynicism.
What’s really awesome, though most likely annoying to the people he’s goofing on, are Argos’ tongue-in-cheek song titles, all riffs on popular songs. “Coal Digger?” Eat your heart out, Kanye. “Billie’s Genes?” Tough break, Michael J. “He’s a Rebel?” Go cry into your eyeliner pot, members of Green Day.
Sure, Argos is an asshole, but he’s the best kind to ride the subway with, constantly looking over his copy of Metro to take a puff and make a comment about the blokes getting on board. Argos has got the mean-but-fun shtick down pat.
One gripe? Argos’ Supremes-bots, the plasticky but in-tune backup singers who croon and swoon but don’t really add anything but a counter to Argos’ staccato British-accented vocals. Drop the Pucci-wearing chickies, Eddie.
As indie rockers go, Eddie Argos is one jack-of-all-trades. Luckily, he knows them all well, and displays them thoroughly on “Everybody Was In the French Revolution… Now!” If there’s an Argos Revolution, you know all the cool kids will be joinin’ up.