Declan McKenna - Zeros

A sophomore album is always going to be a mean feat, especially when your debut was released when you were only 18, and largely met with critical acclaim. Yet, Declan McKenna’s second offering impossibly surpasses 2017’s What Do You Think About The Car?. Returning with Zeros, McKenna introduces us to a new, more ambitious, more eclectic version of his music - qualities that see him soaring to new, unseen before heights.

From the very first note, Zeros sees McKenna riled up – You Better Believe!!! is one of the most explosive album openers of recent times, setting the tone for the remainder of Zeros. It is a deep dive into McKenna’s new 70s-tinged, space-like world, yet a mildly aggressive one – for all the right reasons of course, as he weaves a tale of the world-ending and the natural anxiety of that.

When McKenna first emerged on the indie scene, there was a resounding sense of his disparity from the run of the mill indie rockers alongside him. Largely, his willingness to politicise his lyrics and raise awareness for issues outside of the standard, repetitive topics of other songs released around the same time set him apart. For his mostly teen fanbase, his music offered a more accessible path to involving his fans in politics: this continues on Zeros, but in a more refined form. Less of a list of different issues wrong with our government, McKenna turns towards more of a narrative style, almost dystopian in his commentary.

Whilst Zeros is more abstract and conceptual than his first album, it also harbours some of McKenna’s strongest tracks yet. ‘Emily’ sees some of his most powerful vocals thus far, and Eventually, Darling offers a sweeter side to the artist that we perhaps haven’t seen before.

Zeros flies high above his earlier work – as McKenna has grown up, his music has developed towards new, unmapped territories. Sparkling with aspiration, Zeros is an absolute thunderclap of an album that sets him up perfectly to continue exploring these new avenues.