A Truly Remarkable Journey of Creativity; A Review of Declan McKenna’s Zeros

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Declan McKenna's latest album blends his existing indie-pop style with stunning creativity that makes for an exciting listening experience.

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After initially gaining recognition for winning Glastonbury Festival’s ‘Emerging Talent’ award in 2015, British singer-songwriter Declan McKenna has made a strong name for himself in the indie-pop genre. After releasing ‘Brazil’ in 2015, which protested the 2014 FIFA World Cup, McKenna’s journey into becoming an iconic who isn’t afraid to experiment and say what’s on his mind truly began. His second studio album Zeros (2020), which comes three years after the release of his debut studio album, What Do You Think About the Car? (2017), employs not only McKenna’s ability to explore serious and unspoken topicsm but also shows his true ambitious style through a 10-track album that hits every mark from start to finish.

Zeros (2020) is a truly remarkable journey of creativity from McKenna, branching out from his usual indie-pop form into a world of atmospheric and melodic tunes that transcends genre, bringing something unexpectedly brilliant to the world of indie music. Throughout the entirety of the album, McKenna writes himself a new pathway for his style, taking the usually upbeat and summery tone of his past tunes into a realm in which emotions and meanings are displayed throughout his soothing vocals and (quite often) piano-based melodies.

The album starts off with a bang. Opening track ‘You Better Believe!!!’ kicks things off with an upbeat and explosive introduction to what we can expect from the rest of the record. The song is as catchy and it is exciting, with heavy drums and rhythms drawing you in as simple keyboard notes and sampled voice-overs are overlayed. There is a clear overall theme to Zeros which becomes obvious as the next track, ‘Be an Astronaut’. Said song begins to get the ball rolling for a ‘space’ theme of sorts. It’s easily one of the strongest tracks on the album, feeling extremely reminiscent of the one and only David Bowie with an overwhelming sense of floating through the employment of dreamy deep vocals and elongated piano notes.

Although McKenna released ‘Beautiful Faces’ as an early single prior to the release of Zeros, listening to the track in the context of the album as a whole is a brilliant experience and makes the songs fast pace even more noticeable in comparison to earlier tracks on the album. McKenna shows his true diversity through his ability to switch from melodic, alternative pop songs to quick indie-rock bangers.

Another stand out track which places much later in the album’s tracklist is the rocky ‘Rapture’ which experiments with studio-produced elements that create a song that is much more relatable to McKenna’s ‘classic’ style, however now much more refined. The song shows off McKenna’s brilliantly wide vocal range whilst having a little rant about “Mrs. Thatcher” to maintain his political voice. McKenna’s style shifts and changes at every turn, branching out into piano-heavy tracks including the closing track ‘Eventually, Darling’ which finishes the album on a soft but impactful finale.

At only 21 years old, McKenna has proved himself to be an artist with so much potential for greatness. With the expected critical acclaim and success of Zeros, and a large headline tour scheduled for March next year, Declan McKenna is an excellent and blossoming talent to keep an eye on!

Zeros (2020) is available to listen to now via Sony Music. Check out the video for the latest single ‘Rapture’ below. 

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third-year film student & records/live exec 20/21

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