18-year old Declan McKenna has released his rip-roaring debut album- ‘What do you think about the car?’.
With the quirky title based on a personal reference to something from his childhood, fresh-faced Declan was more than happy to post a video of him as an even fresher-faced child all over the internet, making sense of why the album is named as it is.
The flamboyant performer has had fans leaving gigs open-mouthed on his latest tour, providing shows which exceed all expectations- and then some!
After this record-release, though, listeners are definitely gonna be after a completely new jaw, because the young Declan has done a staggeringly mind-blowing job of this creation. From psychedelic guitar riffs to edgy synth sounds, this debut album screams ‘age is but a number’ as it comes with a side-plate of meaningful messages and anthem-esque choruses.
Over half of the tunes on this electrifying new album were released prior to the actual release date of the whole album. This lead to some people thinking ‘there can’t be much more to it then, surely?’ Wrong. Those people were wrong. The 5 remaining secret songs are actually all just as remarkably thrilling as the rest of the album, yet also provide their own shiny tint of uniqueness, as do all of Declan’s tunes.
The album contains strong, intelligently-structured references to the current state of the world, societal issues and insightfully portrays modern life through a young person’s eyes. Which is admirably warming, seeing as I personally agree with his views, being a young person too (just 8 days older than him actually), and share his anger and negative feelings towards the current political situation right now, as do many of my age. To express these views through music somehow gives off a more positive vibe in relation to his often negative views that are portrayed. Although this clearly doesn’t tangibly make things better for anyone, it is pleasantly refreshing to hear your own worries and issues expressed in a song you enjoy and seems to unite those who agree with Declan’s views, creating positivity and hope amongst a wider community.
The song ‘Paracetamol’ is ingeniously-written. Its slow and steady yet anthem-like aura is created by a heavy bass-drum throughout the verses to build tension, paired with a soul-enhancing chorus which sends the strong message of the importance of love and equality. The song is about transgender youth, and the stereotypes attached to these innocent people and the awful emotional and mental suffering they experience. But Declan didn’t just write the song as himself. Aside from the chorus, the most part of the song was written from the perspective of right-wing media, which he disagrees with. The song has been well-received and gained plaudits from many sufferers of the problems that are referred to. The lyric ‘there’s a girl, 15, with her head in a noose’ is an explicit example of how hard-hitting the song truly is. But in a way, this is refreshing. It’s important that people are aware of the trauma that transgender people go through, and Declan’s lyrics help to spread that awareness.
‘Isombard’ is similar, in that it is based on current problems with the modern world. It’s somewhat tongue-in-cheek, as Declan puts himself in someone else’s shoes once again, as a right-wing news reporter. The main line of this punchy tune is ‘if you can’t walk then run’. The irony here shows how Declan is taking serious, negative issues but making a song about them in a less-miserable, dull way. It refers to police brutality and tensions in the Middle East. The tone of the tune is set immediately with a jumpy keyboard riff, before Declan’s vocals come in at a lower pitch than usual. *moody-looking smoke scatters across the stage*- it’s that kinda song.
There is a satisfying balance on this album; a balance of more mellow and steady songs as well as the awe-inspiring upbeat parts which are likely to strike a chord of ecstasy and excitement within the fans at live gigs.
‘Why Do You Feel So Down’ is one of the more upbeat, dancey tunes on the album, with its carnival-sounding intro, quirky verses, and unique chorus structure. This type of vibe is also heard during the end-part of the intro-track, ‘Humongous’. We hear a fast-paced synth riff and witty lyrics. The fact Declan integrates humour into the album creates a profound sense of completeness, as it isn’t an album full of miserable tracks nor upbeat, happy ones. Combining the two highlights Declan’s youthful, immature side, as well as his philosophically intelligent mind.
Having seen Declan live on two occasions, I have noticed this extraordinary skill he has; the ability to retain and even increase the atmospheric buzz amongst the crowd even when performing a slower song. The stage presence this talented spring chicken showcases is truly remarkable. It is a danger that an audience may zone out when the upbeat tempo of a live set steadies down for a bit. But the talent of Declan and his band takes that danger by the scruff of the neck and launches it straight through the triple-glazed glass window. The song on this album that is inevitably going to boast this talent on his highly-anticipated upcoming tour is ‘Listen To Your Friends’. This inspiring tune is slow and floaty, yet contains a strong moral and political message which engages listeners further.
As an 18-year old lad, Declan deserves endless plaudits following this monumental album release. The way things are going, this boy and his band are heading in an undoubtedly promising direction.
So, to answer your question and sum up this review of ‘What Do You Think About The Car?’: I think the car is extremely damn great, Declan.
James Lawson X