The singer looks to his previous role models for inspiration in his new sound
It’s no secret that British singer Declan McKenna has always pandered to the alternative, left-field music connoisseurs. The artist ranges from alternative pop to classic rock, drawing inspiration from artists like The Beatles to David Bowie.
With his sophomore album, Zeros, McKenna delivers a wild concept album following various characters searching for their true meaning in life as they travel through space and time. While this may sound like pure fiction that looks to Bowie’s “Moonage Daydream” like an elder sibling, it becomes evident that McKenna rooted this album in modern politics as well.
With over ten tracks at 40 minutes long, the singer has no shortage of thoughts to get off of his chest. McKenna delves into a plethora of topics ranging from humans destroying our world faster than we can fix it to disconnecting from technology to better connect with others. Through the album’s lyrics, it’s evident that McKenna believes the only way to truly find bliss and true connection is through disconnection.
With these lyrics including such weighty topics, McKenna proves his ability to score a specific scene he wishes to describe. The production behind each song sets a cinematic scope of love, war or spiraling through outer space to find a new home. On tracks such as “Twice Your Size,” McKenna belts out “…regardless of what you believe in, Earth will change / We must grab our beds and get off out of range.” It’s a fictitious, yet super-realistic declaration at the urgency of our planet’s need for saving.
Standout tracks include “Daniel, You’re Still a Child,” “The Key to Life on Earth,” and “Eventually, Darling.” Each track has McKenna declaring his personal opinions on what matters most to him, whether it be his purpose in life, or what humanity has always been destined for.
Despite having only one standout hit to date (“Brazil,” from his 2017 LP, ‘What Do You Think About The Car?’), McKenna has plenty to prove as he dives further into his self-made rabbit hole of heavy topics including religion, politics, and love.
With multiple concepts scrambling for the spotlight, the album tends to lose its narrative easier than it propels itself forward. Simply put, an artist can only fit so many important topics to them in a short amount of time while still giving each one the attention it deserves.
The artist also tends to show his inspirations a bit too much at times throughout the album, almost coming off as a replication of his role models rather than an original artist looking to pay homage. While he still pushes the boundaries of modern alternative music, the recurring synths and space opera elements tend to push the feeling of duplication rather than originality at times.
While it may have its share of slow moments that lose the listener, the artist is a bright, hopeful artist that has decades ahead of him to improve his art. At only a mere 21 years old, the artist is right on track to becoming the next Bowie.