Art Brut

No one will ever mistake Art Brut for a hip-hop act; musically, the London-based combo specializes in power-pop edginess, new-millennium style. Nonetheless, frontman Eddie Argos's vocals are every bit as declamatory as any rap MC's, if considerably wittier and more jaundiced than the vast majority. On It's a Bit Complicated, the combo's latest, guitarists Jason Future and Ian Catskilkin spin out one spiky riff after another as Argos orates like a cockeyed Cockney fresh from the pub. In "Pump Up the Volume," he poses the enduring query, "Is it so wrong to break from your kiss/To turn up a pop song?," while "Post Soothing Out" features the announcement "Every day is just like starting over/We try so hard, but we keep on falling over." At times, Argos's relentless archness can be overwhelming — but a surplus of memorable lines is a good problem for an album to have. Although Art Brut, appearing with the Hold Steady and the Blood Arm, never strays far from rock, its songs overflow with good rapping.