With a title originating from a childhood family video, the debut album from 18-year-old Declan McKenna certainly doesn’t disappoint. The fact he’s younger than me (admittedly not much) makes me yet again feel achingly inadequate – I mean, I make a mean carrot cake but I certainly cannot claim the level of creativity and talent that this guy has. He’s managed to make an album that’s packed full of songs that aren’t only catchy and fun, but also have intelligent memorable lyrics.
Focusing on the lyrics shows that he’s not afraid to comment on and criticise many of the issues faced by people today. The way he portrays this shows a level of confidence and maturity that make it hard to believe he’s so young (I know I couldn’t talk about these issues in this way, with this level of certainty). They kind of sound like protest songs but they don’t have the same heavy feeling that can sometimes come along with this genre. He comments on corruption in Fifa as an organisation, and in Paracetamol he comments on the alienation that trans kids suffer from in our society following the suicide of Leelah Alcorn and the way it was treated by the media.
Apart from the songs released ahead of the album (Bethlehem being the first one I heard that really drew my attention to him) Make Me Your Queen really stands out to me as a beautiful song about unrequited love. That’s something that struck me as different from a lot of albums at the moment, is that it isn’t packed full of love songs – it’s not that I have anything against love songs but it’s just yet another thing that made it stand out as an incredibly individual album.
People seem to want to tie him down constantly with comparisons and say that what he’s doing isn’t that new or exciting, but I completely disagree. It’s clear to see the similarities and inspiration he’s drawn in his theatricality and sound from people like Bowie, but I think his music fits in all the way across the pop and indie spectrum.
Overall I think it’s clear to see that this is an intelligent, creative debut from a guy that obviously has an impressive career ahead of him.