Declan McKenna – Zeros (2020)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/44,1 kHz | Time – 40:26 minutes | 495 MB | Genre: Alternative, Indie
Studio Masters, Official Digital Download | Front Cover | © Columbia
McKenna’s second album is in thrall to pop’s 1970s glam heroes, but his lyrics ponder today’s struggles, from the climate crisis to social media.
The cover of Declan McKenna’s second album features a blurred photo of its 21-year-old author against a black background. He’s reaching out to the listener, casually dressed for an appearance on Top of the Pops at the height of the three-day week in 1974: his unzipped metallic jumpsuit sparkling in the soft lighting, its shoulders so exaggerated their outer limits are level with his mouth. McKenna’s look has approached glam before – a little eye makeup, nail polish and a hint of glitter on his face setting him apart from the massed ranks of youthful, earnest boy-next-door singer-songwriters – but this is something else. At first glance, Zeros looks as if it’s fallen through a time warp from 1974, more like a lost album rescued from obscurity by a specialist reissue label than the latest release from a very 21st century kind of artist whose music is beloved of TikTokkers in search of a soundtrack. (His debut single Brazil went silver without actually making the charts.)
This Enfield native (raised in Hertfordshire, north of London) started his career rather young: at 16 years old, he composed his first song, Brazil, which denounced FIFA’s practices and their disastrous consequences on the poorest fringes of Brazilian society. Such was the first brick in a both pop and politically engaged edifice, which continues with unrestrained energy on this album. But his political engagement – which dealt mainly with social instability (Daniel, You’re Still a Child) – is still impregnated with a finely honed poeticism among often enigmatic lyrics. This poeticism is reinforced by the ethereal music which verges sometime on dreamlike. David Bowie’s dizzying space scenes in Be an Astronaut and the intro to The Key to Life on Earth immediately come to mind. To create this unique colour, Declan McKenna integrated his pop-rock roots with electronic elements (such as the vocoder on Rapture), but also piano glam-rock, xylophone and pizzicati strings. Finally, one can note his keen sense for a catchy pop melody and sophisticated harmonies. In short, all the elements are reunited to confirm that the young Declan McKenna is to be a future giant in British pop. – Nicolas Magenham
1. Declan McKenna – You Better Believe!!!
2. Declan McKenna – Be an Astronaut
3. Declan McKenna – The Key to Life on Earth
4. Declan McKenna – Beautiful Faces
5. Declan McKenna – Daniel, You’re Still a Child
6. Declan McKenna – Emily
7. Declan McKenna – Twice Your Size
8. Declan McKenna – Rapture
9. Declan McKenna – Sagittarius A*
10. Declan McKenna – Eventually, Darling