Declan McKenna- ‘What Do You Think About The Car?’: A Review
‘Dec, what d’you think about the car? Do you like it?’
4-year-old Declan McKenna has the perfect response to his older sister, brushing her questions aside with a simple ‘I think it’s really good…’ and turning the focus onto himself: ‘…and now I’m going to sing my new album now’. After winning Glastonbury’s ‘Emerging Talent’ competition in 2015 and signing a contract with management company Q Prime, McKenna seems to have firmly planted himself at the forefront of up and coming indie pop at only eighteen years of age, so it seems perfectly fitting that his new album, the first of hopefully many, should be the aptly-titled What Do You Think About The Car?
Opening with newest single Humongous, What Do You Think About The Car? plunges us into a whirlwind of political psychedelia, a theme which carries through until the album’s end. The lyrics are vague and lamenting (‘Do you care? I’m big, humongous, enormous and small, and it’s not fair that I am nothing and nobody’s there’), and the song builds up into a hallucinogenic, synth-fuelled frenzy that would make Tame Impala proud. It’s followed by debut single Brazil, my favourite of everything McKenna has released so far and arguably the reason for his speedy rise to fame. The song criticises FIFA for allowing the World Cup to be hosted in Brazil without addressing the immediate problem of the poverty in the country in a way only McKenna knows how- through catchy choruses, raw vocals and endless summer vibes.
If you’re already a Declan McKenna fan, What Do You Think About The Car? is filled with songs you’ll be familiar with, from the frantic fan favourite Isombard to the uplifting and emotionally charged The Kids Don’t Wanna Come Home, which speaks for young people in a world where they are rarely given a voice. However, plenty of songs that have never been released before are given a place on the album, including the somewhat self-deprecating but still ever-cheery Why Do You Feel So Down?, and Make Me Your Queen, whose lyrics twist gender roles while maintaining a highly adult, guitar-fuelled melody which would not be out of place on the album of an artist with much more experience than McKenna.
Single Paracetamol has its place towards the end of the album, an almost gospel-sounding track based around the oppression of transgender teenagers that progresses into an electronic anthem towards its chorus. Inspired by reading about the suicide of transgender teen Leelah Alcorn, McKenna’s vocals begin as the almost-whisper of someone talking about something very important, and build up into a raw passion that epitomises everything McKenna is about- a young person who is tired of the way others of his age being treated by society. I’ve not yet been lucky enough to go to a Declan McKenna gig, so I can only imagine the euphoria and togetherness that Paracetamol live could possibly bring to a room full of young people.
As an album, What Do You Think About The Car? is the perfect way to introduce a breath of fresh air like Declan McKenna into the mainstream. Immediately, he presents himself as someone who cares- about LGBTQ+ rights, about the poor, about police brutality. Unlike the songs about love and relationships penned by other young musicians of McKenna’s genre, What Do You Think About The Car? presents itself as his way of making a stand, and showing a baby boomer generation that millennials do care about the society they live in and maybe aren’t as self-absorbed and ignorant to the world’s problems as they might first seem.
It appears that a revolution may be coming- and Declan McKenna is the one leading it.
What Do You Think About The Car? is out tomorrow.