One of the sharpest, most engaging debut albums of 2017.
Label: Columbia Records
Released: 21st July 2017
Talents like Declan McKenna don’t come along that often. Signed at an impossibly young age, the bullet point list of achievements would have you believe we’re dealing with some precocious enfant terrible. Nothing could be further from the truth.
What you actually get with our Dec is one of the most engaged, fascinating voices of a generation. Not that he’d thank you for branding him with such lofty tags. While most - even his more experienced peers - would turn an ear for social responsibility into a world of overwrought, over-sincere ‘authentic’ drones, McKenna would pale at the thought. Instead, he conjures up technicolour worlds with playful thoughts and sincere meaning.
That’s what makes ‘What Do You Think About The Car?’ one of the sharpest, most engaging debut albums of 2017. It’s not showy - not really - but rather an extended hand into a world where anything feels possible.
Of course, Dec has his calling cards. ‘Brazil’ remains a bewitching spell - a Velcro hook snagging attention no matter what the occasion. ‘The Kids Don’t Wanna Go Home’ - a track finished on the way home from Paris after the Bataclan attacks - still feels like a raised fist for a Centennial generation disillusioned with the world around them. A refusal to admit defeat, an insistence that we can still change the world, if we want to.
But it’s not just the already familiar singles that shine. ‘Make Me Your Queen’ has an ear for melody that defies the faddish passing of time, while opener ‘Humongous’ does exactly what it says on the tin. It’s closing track ‘Listen To Your Friends’ that really shines, though. Recorded with former Vampire Weekend man Rostam Batmanglij, it chimes with Declan’s trademark energy. Not your usual slow song finish, it’s a promise that this is a story just beginning, not one coming to a close. Stephen Ackroyd