Declan McKenna delivers a captivatingly dreamy debut so politically charged and socially aware, it’s hard to believe What Do You Think About The Car? is the brainchild of an 18-year-old.
McKenna is full of promise to be indie’s youngest yet most talented storyteller. He is beyond his years in such an extreme sense. At age 16 the British singer, songwriter, and musician won the Glastonbury Festival’s Emerging Talent Competition in 2015. After his win, McKenna released his first single, “Brazil”, a song about the FIFA corruption scandal, which reached number one on Sirius XM’s Radio’s Alt Nation Countdown. Even though McKenna doesn’t have many years in the spotlight under his belt, he sure knows how to be a force to reckoned with, especially in the disorder-stricken and originality-deprived web of indie musicians today.
“Do you care? / I’m big, humongous, enormous and small / And it’s not fair that I am nothing and nobody’s there” McKenna pleads in the explosive chorus of “Humongous”, the opening track on What Do You Think About The Car? This track exudes feelings of neglect from a teen who wants to be a larger part in society. This want to be heard is most likely in the sense of politics or the media as a whole. Tracks such as “The Kids Don’t Wanna Go Home” and “I Am Everyone Else” follow a similar nuance in regards to today’s youth in politics.
“Isombard”, a single released by McKenna post “Brazil” touches on politics as well, but this time from the P.O.V. of an uneducated, right-winged news broadcaster. “Isombard” is the definition of a bop. This track is beyond brilliantly crafted. The song oozes with vivacious instrumentals and bridge sticks so seamlessly in listener’s heads. With this track especially, McKenna showcased his ability to write witty lyrics with great meaning, while formulating something radio friendly.
A track that demands the listener’s attention lyrically is “Paracetamol”. The track was based off of Leelah Alcorn, a transgender teen who committed suicide in 2014. However, the song also brings awareness to media misrepresentation of the LGBT community as a whole. As far as the instrumentals go with this track, McKenna includes lots of offbeat noises that linger in the background, an organ, and looped synths. These are a jumble of sounds for sure, but it works, beautifully for that matter.
Perhaps the most standout track on this album is “Mind”. McKenna is the narrator throughout the entirety of the album. He translates what he sees and hears, while advocating and voicing this generation; however, “Mind” is the only track on the album that feels as though it is from a more juvenile place. The lyrics take a few listens to understand, the guitar melodies are lethargic, but this is why it’s so refreshing. Listeners get a glimpse of McKenna as the 18 year-old he is, singing a simple chorus of the experienced confusion of adolescence.
What Do You Think About The Car? is proof that Declan McKenna has enough juvenescence and spunk to fuel a more progressive future for all of us. Catch McKenna on his debut U.S. tour, which starts August 2nd.
Alternative / Indie | Columbia Records