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Arctic Monkeys - Do I Wanna Know? (Single Review)

Wednesday, 19 June 2013 Written by Huw Baines

It can be tough at the top, as Arctic Monkeys are all too aware. Their latest single, Do You Wanna Know?, dropped on June 19 and immediately spread across the web like wildfire. Soon enough it wasn't just a song, it was a Twitter trend, a YouTube curio. Luckily, there's some substance to back up the inevitable hype.

The track has been doing the rounds as part of their live show for a while – popping up at recent dates in the US and Scandinavia – and will doubtless appear during their headline set at Glastonbury next weekend. In fairness, it's tailor-made for a live environment and will fit seamlessly into their setlist.

The song begins with a bluesy stomp and a tricky, catchy guitar riff, and while it's immediately clear that the band haven't completely abandoned the '90s alt-rock vein that coloured 'Humbug' and 'Suck It And See', its closest allegiance is to 2012's standalone Record Store Day single R U Mine?

Both songs owe a debt to the fuzzed-up guitars of Jack White, and the beat that permeates Do You Wanna Know? also possesses more than a little of a latter-day White Stripes influence. In Alex Turner, though, the band still hold a trump card. His distinctive drawl leaves you in no doubt as to who you're listening to.

Another strength is the continued presence of Turner's colloquial lyrics. Influences have come and gone throughout the band's back catalogue, but all have been filtered through Turner's wry, sardonic wit. After a falsetto back-and-forth in the pre-chorus, he slurs: “Crawling back to you, ever thought of crawling when you've had a few?” It's an arresting, powerful chorus and one that will be screamed back at the band in years to come.

Turner is in introspective mood throughout, littering the song with allusions to loss, unrequited desires and regret. He maintains a cold quality though, one that allows the listener to imagine the words being sneered from behind mirrored sunglasses. It works.

The band are tipped to return later this year with a new record, and if their last two singles are anything to go by there may be a few changes in store. Arctic Monkeys aren't re-inventing the wheel on Do You Wanna Know?, but they are dipping a toe into murky waters. The shadows suit them just fine.





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