Columbia Records, out 21st July
Written for Cuckoo Review, pending publication
Declan McKenna has gone from strength to strength in recent years after winning Glastonbury Festival’s emerging talent competition, touring with Blossoms and placing on the prestigious BBC Sound of 2017 list. Now the newcomer has played a string of his own tour dates with his band, and together they are working through an impressive list of festival appearances including Glastonbury, Latitude and Reading & Leeds Festivals. His debut album What Do You Think About The Car? is set to be released at the end of the month, and manages to combine fizzing alt-pop songs with engaging lyrics, creating infectious tunes that tackle topical events experienced in recent, unsettling times.
It is hard to believe that Declan is only 18 years old, possessing a song-writing ability that stars decades older could only dream of and an ever-growing fanbase in response. The album’s opening track ‘Humongous’ is a blinder of an introduction, with a powerful chorus that seems to summarise his feelings of confusion and frustration. This is followed by ‘Brazil’, the song that propelled the young musician into the limelight after he uploaded it to Bandcamp aged just 15. ‘Brazil’, an ode to the corruption that infamously has plagued international football organisations such as FIFA, remains just as catchy three years on.
This ability to create songs with socially aware stories permeates the entirety of the album, with ‘Bethlehem’ discussing the use of religion to justify hate crime and ‘Isombard’ focusing on the inability of a US newsreader to understand the story he is trying to tell. Declan shows perfectly that the younger generation are more politically engaged than ever, dispelling the myth that today’s youth are merely self-obsessed and addicted to social media.
It’s hard to describe the exquisite way in which every song fits together seamlessly on the album. Every track is unique and yet similar, with different individual subject matters entwined together by a common catchy, likeable sound. This debut certainly will not be forgotten any time soon.