Certain things in life can make you feel very old indeed… [cliché alert!!] like the seemingly ever-youthful police officers on the streets, or teachers that look young enough to still be at school themselves. The effect Declan McKenna can have on someone like me is on an altogether different scale however. It’s not just that the Hertfordshire-born singer-songwriter is a mere 18-years-old, it’s much more the fact that his songs are so full of depth and meaning that it’s hard to comprehend they are the handiwork of someone of such tender years.
Throughout, the album is full of great, catchy hooks, backed with polished arrangements and sung with consummate ease. Album opener Humongous sets the tone with its big, bold chorus. Brazil – a song about FIFA corruption around the World Cup in the South American country – then leads-in to a track that’s probably brought him more airplay than any other; the superb Kids Don’t Wanna Come Home, which packs arguably the best chorus of the album.
Declan McKenna – Brazil
Other stand-out tracks include I Am Everyone Else, album closer Listen To Your Friends, and the wonderful Isombard, which was in fact the track that first brought McKenna to our attention. In truth though, there are no weak points here. It is an LP that maintains its focus and momentum from start to finish.
Declan McKenna – Isombard
It’s hard to tell exactly where McKenna’s influences mostly come from, such is the broad scope of his songs. Clearly there is a ‘protest song’ aspect to his material, and yet there is none of the weary, depressing tone that this genre can sometimes find itself indulging in. Instead there are strong hints of Bowie, elements of upbeat tones from right across the pop spectrum, and even 1980s-infused sounds from time-to-time.
The final result is a giddy, uplifting collection of richly inventive songs that enthral and surprise in equal measure. McKenna has the potential to become one of the most important music artists of his generation. What we’re certain of though, is that What Do You Think About The Car? is the strongest debut album we’ve heard for a good long while.
Declan McKenna – Humongous