The second single from Arctic Monkeys’ 2007 Favourite Worst Nightmare album, ‘Fluorescent Adolescent’ performed well in the UK charts, reaching number 5, but didn’t match the commercial success of their debut single at an international level.
Looking at the chart, things start off simply as the bass doubles the rhythm guitar stabs for the first 4 bars. Bassist Nick O’Malley then incorporates scale passages and octave runs to link the root notes of each chord together, matching the lead guitar part note for note.
During the first 4 bars of the verse, the bass is the only harmonic accompaniment to the vocal and the sparse drum part – here the bass part from the intro is developed to provide a constant 8th note line. Notice how the articulation varies in each bar; root notes are always staccato while connecting passages are played with sustained quavers to give a smoother sound.
Harmonically speaking, the verse is comprised of an entirely diatonic I – vi – ii –V chord progression (“one – six – two –five”) which should be very familiar to any readers who dabble in the Dark Arts of Jazz.
Comparing the two choruses reveals a common arrangement trick – the first chorus uses the sparse rhythmic feel of the intro, while the second has the bass playing a constant quaver line that brings a sense of movement and propels the song forward towards the bridge section.
From a tonal perspective, this is definitely pick territory – the bass is relatively prominent in the mix and needs to have a certain amount of ‘bite’ on every note.