Updated: Feb 11, 2018
It’s quite easy to overlook an artist based on their age, but to do so with Declan McKenna would be very disappointing. McKenna is a confident 18-year-old from the UK who stormed the music industry with shock. He won the 2015 Glastonbury Emerging Talent competition at the age of 15, and now he finally has his debut album What Do You Think About The Car? out, which includes some songs that have been consistently released prior.
McKenna is a part of the new scene of artists who are expressing retro vibes with very heavy activist undertones. He uses retrospective and holistic views in his songs to imply about societal wrongs, and rather than writing sulky, gloomy tunes about these problems, he does quite the opposite with bliss. He bases his songs off of ABBA and David Bowie, and it is fitting with his jubilant, poppy song.
His music is engaged with politics and he tries to encapsulate his generation in this. He says that he “likes the generation that he is apart of” (Gen Z) and that a lot of people in it understands things better than others. McKenna talks about some of this in his song “The Kids Don’t Wanna Come Home.” He also talks about the negativity that comes with religion in “Bethlehem.”
He captures LGBTQ issues with his song “Paracetamol”. It was inspired by Leelah Alcorn, a transgender girl’s suicide, which blossomed into the powerful song it is now. He advocates about the problems the media has with representing the LGBTQ community - about how they skip over real representation and what they're doing isn’t enough.
McKenna also documented the destruction that the 2014 FIFA World Cup presented in Brazil in his song “Brazil”. It was his first song that was released since 2015 which won him the Glastonbury competition, but also opened a lot of people’s eyes to his art that he was inherently creating as well as proving what a talented artist he is.
McKenna also addresses the bias and corruption with some right-wing media in “Isombard.” He talks about how the song is “about this right wing Fox News-type TV presenter trying to justify things like police brutality and xenophobia, and using cases for backward political gains, but completely fumbling over his words and not really knowing what he's talking about.”
Even by incorporating his older songs, his debut album is lyrically an artistic masterpiece that is hands down one of the best albums of 2017. He included his four-year-old sister's words in a few of the songs featured, which adds symbolic youthfulness. His mix of genres range to more upbeat songs like “Why Do You Feel So Down” to a more softer, acoustic “Make Me Your Queen.”
In conclusion, Declan McKenna is making music that not only inspires people to create art and do what they love, but to also stick up for what they believe in.
Go stream or buy his wicked debut album What Do You Think About The Car? now. ✉
article by: kaitlin browne
visual by: diy mag