While Declan McKenna is fast approaching the stage where he needs no introduction, we’ll give him one; if not just to prove quite how impressive his rise to fame has been.
Declan’s career began at just 16 after ‘Brazil,’ a track which called out the heads of FIFA for the company’s innate corruption. Having (understandably) sparked the attention of industry heads and a certain Michael Eavis who selected him to perform at Glastonbury Unsigned, and then Glastonbury itself, Declan’s career snowballed.
Thus, we’ve arrived at Declan McKenna’s debut album, What Do You Think About The Car? Now 18, Declan’s perfected and refined the already unstoppable talent he had at 16. Tracks that were written at 15/16 with a wisdom already far beyond his years have been revamped with a musical knowledge that’s improved (although definitely coming naturally to Declan) with the past few years.
If we are to criticise What Do You Think About The Car? (which it’s very difficult to do) the one point would be that perhaps there isn’t enough new content; almost half the album are songs that were written in the past few years and have already been heard at countless shows. But perhaps this is unfair. In fact, it’s definitely unfair. It simply feels as though – with the album having been such a long time coming – that there already has been an album, that these songs have been released before. But they haven’t, and however many times we may hear them, they don’t get boring.
It’s important to remember, too, the storytelling behind Declan’s songs. And regardless of when they were written, these are the stories Declan wants to tell. And they’re important to tell. Between ‘Paracetamol’ (addressing the misunderstood reporting of transgender teens) to ‘Bethlehem,’ which talks about religion being used to justify hate crime, and the most recent ‘The Kids Don’t Wanna Come Home,’ written shortly after the Paris attacks to express the powerlessness of a young person in today’s world, Declan’s world view is impeccable. Declan’s the representation of a generation persistently knocked down, told by the Piers Morgans of the world that they’re lazy, clueless and useless; a generation who continue to fight these perceptions in their awareness and acceptance.
In all his awareness, though, there’s something overwhelmingly optimistic about the whole of What Do You Think About The Car? There’s a refreshing youthfulness that surrounds Declan. Musically, it’s relentlessly uplifting. While he sings about the various problems in the world around him – problems that he frustratingly can do little about – he seems hopeful. And perhaps rightly so. With a debut like What Do You Think About The Car, I wouldn’t be surprised if he could change the world.
What Do You Think About The Car? is out Friday 21 July