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The Futureheads

On its sophomore album, this punkish U.K. band shows that artistic maturation can be a good thing. The Futureheads kept all the solid power riffs, drums, and bass lines but added a few bells and whistles — claps, shakers, Beach Boys-styled harmonies, and thought-provoking lyrics. That's not to say the band has turned to mush; tracks like "Return of the Berserker" and "Cope" offer hard, pogo-worthy punk rock. But from the opening lines of the first track, "Yes/No," Barry Hyde's shouting vocals forecast a highly introspective album where each track documents the nervousness about change that plagues most rock stars early in their careers. Even the reflective title track, which mourns the 1958 Munich air crash that claimed the lives of 23 Manchester United soccer players, staff, and reporters returning from a winning game in Belgrade, seems to suggest the band's own fear of a similarly early end. Not if this album is any indication.

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