When Art Brut's Eddie Argos and the Blood Arm's Dyan Valdés formed the side project Everybody Was in the French Resistance...Now!, they were searching for a way to stick it to Avril Lavigne.
The duo, performing May 5 at the Frequency, didn't want to razz the Canadian pop princess for being a fake punk or a spokeswoman for the Proactiv acne treatment system. Instead, they were looking to call her out for a different type of indiscretion: She's made oodles of dollars from "Girlfriend," a song about stealing boyfriends, one that also steals a chorus from the 1979 Rubinoos tune "I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend."
"G.I.R.L.F.R.E.N. (You Know I've Got A)," from the duo's new album, Fixin' the Charts, Vol. 1, uses satire, misspelling and some seriously catchy pop hooks to get Avril to change her ways. Argos rebuffs a kooky girl's unwanted advances with lines like "I'm very in love with someone else / We've got concerns about your mental health."
The album goes on to reconstruct stories and characters from many songs the band actually likes, but from a markedly different perspective than the originals. "My Way (Is Not Always the Best Way)" turns Ol' Blue Eyes' original on its head with admissions of self-doubt and an argument for consensus in decision-making, while "Billy's Genes" transforms Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean" into a tale of a pissed-off kid tracking down his biological father.
The duo are not just about reinventing old pop songs, however; they're also trying to create a unique live act that merges cultural experiences of the past, like sending postcards, with those of the present and future, such as blogging.
As the duo travel from city to city to promote the album, Argos makes an original postcard to commemorate every show. He says the project helps him fight boredom in the car, but it's also a way of documenting a contemporary event through an old-fashioned lens. Postcards also make excellent mementos, he explains on his blog, the Eddie Argos Resource.
"Nowadays, when a postcard is received, I believe it has a far more personal touch than it has ever had before," he says.