Release Date: Jul 21, 2017
Record label: Columbia
One of the most sought-after new acts in the country, McKenna started off supporting a number of artists on the road before word started to spread and it wasn't long before he surpassed those he once supported. Now with a sizeable army of fans backing his every move, it's time for Declan McKenna to improve his position, a mission that his debut release will certainly allow him to conquer. On his first full-length release, McKenna offers up no hidden surprises.
There is probably a decent correlation between people who'll fail to 'get' Declan McKenna and those who still can't get their heads around last month's general election result. Declan, like any very suspecting member of Generation Z, is a mishmash of just about everything, knowingly contradicting himself at every twist and turn his debut takes. See, while there's a huge swathe of 'What Do You Think About The Car?' that could well owe its sound to the dour singalongs of the post-Britpop years, everything here is doused in sonic hundreds-and-thousands, the kind of synth beeps and squelches and breakdowns your average bucket hat would turn their sunburnt nose up at.
Winning the Glastonbury Emerging Talent Competition at 15, Declan McKenna was swiftly hyped as a musical prodigy. His debut single 'Brazil' helped - it's a piece of jaunty, jangly indie-pop on the surface, but with lyrics that take a dig at corruption within football organisation FIFA. Right from the off, it was obvious McKenna's teenagehood didn't make him a slave to any stereotypes.
W ith a major label deal and a super televised Glastonbury appearance under his belt at the age of 18, Declan McKenna has the youthful self-confidence to tackle material that older songwriters rarely touch. His subject matter ranges from the suicide of US transgender teenager Leelah Alcorn and media portrayal of LGBT communities (Paracetamol) to Fifa World Cup corruption (Brazil, penned when he was 15) and law enforcement and Black Lives Matter (Isombard). They are protest songs, but sound anything but worthy or world-weary.
There's a famous clip of Jarvis Cocker saying that Pulp might only be remembered for Common People, but - as he astutely puts it - "I don't care. It's a good song." It's possible that Declan McKenna can already relate to that situation with a track he released when he was 15. After a flurry of label offers, McKenna took matters into his own hands and self-released Brazil.
T he debut album from 18-year-old Hertfordshire singer-songwriter Declan McKenna suggests that the "voice of a generation" hyperbole he's already attracted might be a little premature, yet there is much here that impresses. He certainly stands out from his peers, his hook-laden indie coming with atypically socially aware lyrics, whether at a macro (Fifa corruption on Brazil) or micro level (the bullying of transgender teens on Paracetamol). There's a pleasing maturity to his tunes, too, the verses of Make Me Your Queen echoing Roddy Frame at his best.
Some 18-year-olds don't have a lot to say about the world, but Declan McKenna isn't your typical teenager. The rising star has already won Glastonbury Unsigned by a landslide, signed to Columbia Records and played sold-out shows across the country to rave reviews. His James Ford-produced debut album, 'What Do You Think About The Car?', is filled with observational lyrics not dissimilar to Alex Turner's early efforts, adding a layer of depth to its indie-pop tendencies.