Eighteen year old singer-songwriter Declan McKenna’s debut album What Do You Think About The Car? displays incredible depth and social commentary for a musician so young.
One of Declan’s early releases ‘Brazil’ became his breakout song, aged just fifteen, gaining traction because of its exploration of corruption in international football. A lot of McKenna’s original material contains not only creative lyrics but also insight into the artist’s opinions on a range of issues and sectors in our society.
‘The Kids Don’t Wanna Come Home’ is a beautiful anthem centering on the trials, tribulations and possibilities of youth. The music video is particularly poignant as it’s intercut with a series of short interviews from young people in order to give the visuals the perspective of the song. ‘Isombard’ contrasts in sound with its baroque indie rock tones, yet the message is just as pronounced; this time touching on the American media’s bias when defending acts of police brutality, haunting echoes of Declan’s vocals ringing throughout the track.
However the album is not just a selection of great singles padded out with average tracks just to make up the numbers, plenty more hidden gems surface with ‘Mind’ propelled by a bouncing guitar melody giving the song a carousel rhythm to the chorus of ‘Why’d you keep changing your mind?’ The song sings with an upbeat sadness at someone else’s inability to make a decision. ‘Listen To Your Friends’ is another special one, feeling more like a defeated love song at first; it morphs into a captivating spoken word social commentary on modern life.
Declan’s vocals are equally as impressive as his lyrics delivering John Lennon style vocals on ‘Humongous’; deep and solemn without sounding miserable even as he states ‘I am nothing and nobody’s there’ it still sings as softly as ‘Nowhere Man’. ‘Bethlehem’ sees another striking vocal performance with Declan’s rich, low tones juxtaposing the upbeat, melodic sounds of the guitar; adding gravitas to his words.
With a selection of festivals ahead of him, including UK’s Reading and Leeds as well as Ireland’s Electric Picnic, his live performance will continue to swell in energy with the album already gaining positive feedback.
It is more than clear that the Hertfordshire musician has an exciting future ahead of him. Being able to deliver a debut album of this standard can only mean for an interesting creative journey to come.