Since Declan McKenna’s renowned debut album ‘What Do You Think About The Car?’ in 2017, the artist has grown in more ways than one. His debut racked up 230 million streams, along with 200,000 album sales, proving Declan is a talented individual. His upcoming album ‘Zeros’ is no exception as it takes McKenna’s musical abilities to new places, or worlds I should say, as the album has a prominent astrological theme, which is reiterated and used expertly throughout the album.
Accompanying the popular singles already released such as ‘The Key to Life on Earth’ and ‘Beautiful Faces’ the album opens with ‘You Better Believe!!!’. This introduces us into McKenna’s second musical adventure with a bang, through the thrashing use of drums and uplifting use of instrumentation on the song. It serves as something people need to hear in this uncertain year, as it’s energetic beat sets up a joyous mood for the listener and the rest of ‘Zeros’ that is to follow after.
Along with this, the use of effects in ‘Zeros’ is impressive and doesn’t detract from the talent of Mckenna, and instead creates more of that spacey sound used by some of Declan’s musical influences like David Bowie, someone whose influence is particularly apparent in the album, in records such as ‘Be an Astronaut.’ Another prominent example of McKenna’s dextrous use of effects is towards the end of ‘Twice Your Size’ as the tempo speeds up and the energy of the piece increases dramatically, creating the effect of a rocket falling to earth or flying through space. This is similar in the following song ‘Rapture’ (one of my favourites on the album) as towards the end of the song, it gives the impression that McKenna is drowning and this is accompanied by him screaming the lyrics towards the end. Again this creates the spacey and out-of-this-world sound.
Along with the intelligent and appropriate use of effects in this album, something I specifically love about ‘Zeros’ is how Declan has used the theme of space continually to create a metaphorical album, which gives us a narrative of McKenna in conversation with his past self, along with those listening. This is coupled with his grotesque and whimsical choice of vocabulary, which I think gives a fresh take on the lyricism often featured in modern music, that often seems to be quite safe; ‘safe’ is definitely something you could not call ‘Zeros’ as it is so disparate from music being produced now. The line such as ‘What do you think of the rocket I built?’ in ‘You Better Believe!!!’ shows how it’s a new era for McKenna, combined with quirky lines such as ‘I’m Sagittarius, I’m A*’, leaving the album open to the listener to interpret the album and it’s meanings, how they wish to do so. This new take on lyricism by Declan is refreshing and makes him a cut above many artists in today’s music.
Ending ‘Zeros’ with ‘Eventually, Darling’ a softer song than the rest of the album and feels like after spending time orbiting and chaotically roaming around space with McKenna, you’re now floating gently back down to earth; it’s a beautiful ending to a spectacular album, showing how versatile Declan McKenna is as an artist.
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