Taken from the band’s second album (2007’s Favourite Worst Nightmare), ‘Teddy Picker’ failed to match the commercial success of the previous two singles (‘Brianstorm’ and ‘Fluorescent Adolescent’), peaking at number 20 in the UK charts.
The menacing sounding main hook hinges on the interval of a tritone (also known as a diminished 5th or, more simply, a ‘flat 5’), which has been used by countless bands to impart a sense of dissonance and unease to their riffs.
Check out the sinister main riff of Black Sabbath’s ‘Black Sabbath’ that also exploits the same interval*:
Most of Nick O’Malley’s bass line involves locking in tightly with the drums and doubling the guitar parts – watch out for the rhythmic twist that occurs after the first chorus, where part of the main riff is displaced by a quaver. This neat trick appears again underneath the guitar solo, helping to keep the listener interested throughout the track.
Taking a closer listen to the bass part reveals that Nick O’Malley took a different approach to the Arctic Monkeys original bassist (Andy Nicholson, who played on their debut album). The bass tone on ‘Teddy Picker’ has more than a hint of dirt on it and the use of a pick rather than fingers helps to prevent things from getting too muddy – the attack of the plectrum also sits well in the context of the track, where the emphasis is on keeping everything rhythmically tight with the rest of the band.
*Arctic Monkeys bassist Nick O’Malley has listed Sabbath’s Geezer Butler as one of his prominent bass influences.