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Music

Listen to Alex Turner's menacing isolated vocals for Arctic Monkeys’ 'Do I Wanna Know'

It’s a song as obviously sultry as a late-night text asking you what you’re up to. Slithering around on the sort of riff that causes the air around the speaker to dance, every element of the instrumentation is instantly recognisable—how often do you get something as utterly simplistic as Matt Helders’ kick-drum intro making an iconic mark? However, the topline that ties it all together is Alex Turner’s near-seedy purr. 

This vocal take was the sordid moment that truly crystalised his transition from a snarling Sheffield scallywag to a crooner who could stir caramel with his slinky vocal style. In fact, there’s something about his racy recital on AM that simply sounds leather-clad. It’s as though you could take a look at his trachea and find it finely waxed and equipped with pop studs.

As producer James Ford recalled when thinking back to this dark brooding epic: “I just remember thinking, ‘This sums up what we’re trying to do’. It felt kind of heavy – and heavy in mood as well. It had a weight to it that I really like.”

Continuing: “I remember when that came together being really excited, and seeing the picture crystallise in front of me a little bit of where we going. It was one of the first ones we got done, and it was that thing of it coming together – I could see the end call from that point onwards.”

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Filled with vintage fuzz and tremolo, the track had an air of classic rock ‘n’ roll meets hip hop, and Turner’s vocal take followed suit. It doesn’t deviate in pitch much, but has a defined sound about it, both entering the mix as a complementary instrument and the perfect sonic glass slipper for the poetry that Turner had written for the piece. 

There are moments in the vocal take where the words and sound form a perfect partnership. For instance, “have you got the guts” is spoken with a subtle bellow that sounds like it comes straight from Turner’s belly—there is an earthy guttural sound to it that hits with a thud. And then as he ponders whether the feeling flows both ways, with a knowingness that it probably does, he cuts loose and lets his silken vowels lengthen their stride. 

You can listen to the patent leather isolated perfection of his vocal take for the classic 2013 track below. But it should be noted that it is so sultry it should come with a parental advisory warning. 

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