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I'm Clifford Stumme, and I use literary analysis and research to explain the deeper meanings of pop songs. Feel free to leave a comment or to email me at clifford@popsongprofessor.com with questions or ideas!

What does "Wolves without Teeth" by Of Monsters and Men mean?

What does "Wolves without Teeth" by Of Monsters and Men mean?

"Wolves without Teeth" is the fourth track from Of Monsters and Men's Beneath the Skin, and I think it's one of my favorites. The music is engaging, the lyrics are interesting, and the give-and-take duet between Nanna Bryndís Hilmarsdóttir and Ragnar "Raggi" þórhallsson tells a beautiful story. The song is almost narrative in form and tells an intense but ultimately hopeful tale of fear and love.

The band has stayed true to their musical roots in My Head Is an Animal, or perhaps they simply decided that the genre hadn't been explored enough yet. In any case, Beneath the Skin feels like an extension of the band's first album-the songs flow together well, and many fans will like it just as much as they liked the previous one. And of the songs on Beneath the Skin, "Wolves without Teeth" seems to have the potential to go viral. It's interesting and beautiful and was also one of the hardest songs for the band to write, signifying a lot of work put into it.

"Wolves without Teeth" Lyrics Meaning

In "Wolves without Teeth," Nanna and Raggi sing back and forth about a powerful love that stands in the face of a frightening world that wants to hunt and hurt both of the protagonists.

Of Monster and Men

Of Monster and Men

Raggi begins by singing, "Open my chest and colour my spine / I'm giving you all / I'm giving you all." He is opening up to his love, letting her into the deepest parts of him. He wants to know her and to be known by her on an almost spiritual level-thus the ripping open of the chest that reveals the heart. He continues, "Swallow my breath / And take what is mine / I'm giving you all /I'm giving you all." He wants to give up his own strength in order to help her. He wants to support her when she needs it, even going so far as to offer his "breath"-what keeps him alive.

Nanna responds in kind: "I'll be the blood / If you'll be the bones / I'm giving you all / I'm giving you all." She, too, is committed to the relationship and offers a closeness almost impossible. Neither blood nor bones do any good on their own; she offers co-dependency. She also offers either sexual intimacy or general intimacy and more co-dependency. She sings, "So lift up my body / And lose all control / I'm giving you all / I'm giving you all." The losing of "control" could refer to sex, but it also could be an encouragement to stop posing or pretending and to just be one's self. In a tight relationship, people can be comfortable with who they are, and Nanna seems to be offering this to Raggi.

OMAM Concert
OMAM Concert

For the pre-chorus, Nanna's character sings about how other-worldly Raggi's character and their love for each other are: "You hover like a hummingbird / Haunt me in my sleep." She thinks about him a lot and even when he's not there, she still feels like he's near-on the edge of sense, waiting for her to come to him. She sings, "You're sailing from another world / Sinking in my sea." The love she feels for him is strong, and she reveres him as someone above everyone else. And she's happy that he won't return to where he came from; he's stuck in her "sea" now.

Both of them finish "Wolves without Teeth's" pre-chorus by singing, "You're feeding on my energy /I'm letting go of it / She wants it." They inspire each other in a mutually beneficial climactic love that won't stop growing. So they're letting go of the world they come from with a parting, "She wants it," to remind each other of the desire they have for each other. (Later pre-choruses switch between "He wants it" and "She wants it" to show the feeling truly is mutual.)

Screen Shot of Released Album
Screen Shot of Released Album

But the chorus shows a side to this story that isn't beautiful. Their environment (or the world around them) doesn't like either of them, so they sing together, "And I run from wolves / (Breathing heavily) / At my feet." Wolves work in packs, so here they seem to be symbolic of several problems or enemies combining to hurt the two. They sing, "And I run from wolves / Tearing into me / Without teeth." These titular lyrics suggest that though the wolves hunt them and even attack them, the protagonist's love for each other makes them impervious. They don't feel it and only feel their loves for each other. The wolves may attack, but they cannot hurt Nanna and Raggi's characters.

In the next verse, Raggi returns to the beauty of the relationship; he sings, "I can see through you / We are the same / It's perfectly strange." They are transparent with each other, and they know each other really well. They can predict what the other is thinking and can't help but marvel at how good the experience is. He continues, "You run in my veins / How can I keep you / Inside my lungs?" Their personalities and persons are so close that they feel mythologically combined or together: their love is that strong. When Raggi asks his question, he's hinting at how he wants her to stay forever-to always be the air he breathes. For now, he sings, "I breathe what is yours / You breathe what is mine." They are perfectly together.

Beneath the Skin Album Cover Art
Beneath the Skin Album Cover Art

After the pre-chorus and chorus, they together repeat, "And you can follow / You can follow me." Though they run from the wolves, they can run together and follow each other as they escape danger. After another pre-chorus and chorus, they finish the song by repeating this bridge twice more, cementing the fact that no matter what happens or where they go, they will be together.

What do you think "Wolves without Teeth" by Of Monsters and Men means? Did you like the song? What are your thoughts on it? Thanks for reading!

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