"Where do you come from, what do you know?" If that lyric from "Area", one of the bonus tracks and catchiest tunes on The Futureheads' new album, News and Tributes, were asked to the band rather than sung by them, the retort might possibly involve "Sunderland" and "our way around a spiky pop song." The quartet from the Northwest of England check in with their sophomore record and have grown considerably since 2004's self-titled debut. Instead of running from the building guitars blazing on every song, Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid-stylee, this time around The Futureheads are more inventive and discriminate with their six-string attack. This isn't to say they're rocking acoustic guitars and sitting in a drum circle - that's hardly the case. But they've moved on, musically and lyrically, to include various tempos and an expanded lyrical horizon. Both of these transformations are fully realized on the title track, which tells the story of the Munich air crash of 1958, resulting in the loss of eight Manchester United players and 23 people in total. But fear not, Futurehead fanatics, as the band can still wrench on their guitars with the best of them, as is evidenced on "Return Of The Berserker" and "Cope". But it's the growth in songwriting that bodes best for Sunderland's finest and provides another clue that Futureheads are not just a flash in the post-punk revival pan; they seem to have what it takes to remain in the game for the long haul.
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