Do I Wanna Know? – Arctic Monkeys

I heard this track back in 2013 when it was doing rounds of music charts and has since stuck with me because of it’s unique writing, hook and style.

This is (yet another) song on one-sided love where the narrator, Alex Turner, is wondering if it’s okay to keep wondering about his love getting reciprocated or to really find out- ‘Do I Wanna Know?’. It’s the grey space between certainty and uncertainty that seldom ends up being the most comfortable place to be, cushioned by imagination and aspiration. The writing is confessional and of relatable reactions to being struck by love: of listening to songs on repeat, calling after having a few drinks and knowing well that one is stuck on their lover (busy being yours to fall for somebody knew). The words are powerful and make me feel sorry for this lover who is a slave to his longing and fixated on one person. However, Turner’s voice gives away a certain comfort with this all, he is not too angry or desperate, he’s in deep and knows it but is not really obsessive.

I love how the track starts with just drums, then the guitars step in with a nice deep bass, before Turner’s sleepy-ish vocals bare the internal dialogue. The downtempo is great, gives a graver, introspective edge to the words. The interplay between the backing vocals and his, perfectly captures the doubt & pondering in the pre-chorus. Then all the vocals get together in the chorus adding more weight to the emotion. Amidst all this, the lead guitar keeps getting heavier, symbolizing the simmering disappointment that is perhaps now compounded by all the verbalized thought.

A very interesting composition, this. Makes me think of a boat that’s near the shore but doesn’t want to make it there, just wants to keep floating in the emotional sea wishing the tide stayed low and kinder. If only.