Declan McKenna’s long awaited debut album is finally here, and boy was it worth the wait! The 18 year old alongside his band have created an absolute banger with ‘What Do You Think About The Car?’. Each track has intense, thought provoking ideals behind them, put forward by Declan’s incredible lyrical talent, alongside astounding melodies.
The album opens with ‘Humongous’, starting off with a clip from a Declan’s family’s home video featuring the voices of a young Declan and his elder sister, she asks him; “Dec, what do you think about the car? Do you like it?”. His response is short and sweet; “I like it, it’s really good and now I’m going to sing my new album now.” That 10 second intro perfectly sums up the album; full of youthful spirit and pure determination, which is bound to make it soar to great heights.
‘What Do You Think About The Car?’ isn’t just another alt-pop record, the songs hit on the deep issues of this generation. ‘Bethlehem’ tackles how religion is used to justify violence, ‘Isombard’ targets newsreaders misinterpreting stories, ‘Paracetamol’ was inspired by transgender teen Leelah Alcorn who took her own life in 2014, and ‘The Kids Don’t Wanna Come Home’ came about after the Paris attack in 2015. Hardly the lyrical style you’d expect from someone Declan’s age, but it is done with such care, precision and skill alongside genius beats, that they form to make an album has the ability to last a lifetime.
These 5 tracks have been released over the past couple of years, with the one that kickstarted his career back in 2015 being ‘Brazil’. This song is one of McKenna’s best, focusing on the state of FIFA and the then president Sepp Blatter. Even if you’re not a fan of Declan’s, the renowned lyrics “he talks like an angel but he looks like me” are so widespread across the internet that they must have been seen by pretty much everyone by now. This innocent upload to Bandcamp started something that the 16 year old could only have dreamed of; a mass of fans, being selected by the one and only Michael Eavis to play Glastonbury, and not forgetting the imminent record deal!
One of the highlights of this ‘What Do You Think About The Car?’ is ‘Make Me Your Queen’, although being more downtempo than the rest of the album, the vocals are the thing that really make it a stand out track. Opening up with dreamy acoustic guitar, building with a raw drum beat alongside beautiful high notes and harmonies easily makes this song one of Declan’s best.
Another one of the new songs that is bound to go down a treat with fans is ‘Why Do You Feel So Down’. Opening with enthralling synths and swirling vocals leading to an insanely addictive chorus, while the upbeat musical focus bleeds through into more somber lyrics. “I know I’m not a very good friend, why do you feel so down? Sure there’s not something to stick around for” … “I know you think I’m safe and sound but I’m not”. The shifting focus between melody and lyrics is something that is extremely recognisable in Declan McKenna’s music, even the simple vignettes sampled from his childhood family videos throughout the album blends in with his unique style.
The closing track ‘Listen To Your Friends’ is the perfect way to sum up such an exceptional album. Starting off with delicate violins, giving a different aspect to the rest of the record, propelling into a catchy bass line. The climax of this track has to go to the speech half way through, Declan speaks about the NHS, high train fares and not allowing school holidays in term time, perfectly representing the current state of the UK.
‘What Do You Think About The Car?’ isn’t just a bunch of great songs thrown together, this album is perfectly crafted. Declan McKenna is the voice of a generation, shining light on social issues as well as producing arena ready tracks at the tender age of just 18. The closing lyrics “please trust in me” perhaps sum up the album for many. A debut that knocks other bands in the indie genre out of the water, but with so much promise for the future, Declan McKenna is a name to keep an ear out for.
‘What Do You Think About The Car?’ is out now via Columbia Records. The full track listing is as follows:
3. The Kids Don’t Wanna Come Home
5. Make Me Your Queen
7. I Am Everyone Else
9. Why Do You Feel So Down
11. Listen To Your Friends