Declan McKenna’s second album Zeros is bolder than his first. Heavily influenced by science-fiction and dripping in glam rock, McKenna broadens his horizons and transcends the indie rock genre to capture the almost apocalyptic feeling of being a young person in 2020.
Blending a 1970s aesthetic remnant of David Bowie (right down to the space theme) with modern political ideals, McKenna creates an atmospheric call to those on the cusp between Millennial and Gen Z.
McKenna has always centred his music around his politics, beginning with his breakthrough hit ‘Brazil’ in 2015, centred around corruption in football. However, his 2019 single ‘British Bombs’ is a bold and explicit criticism of UK foreign policy. McKenna’s political thread in Zeros takes a more abstract approach; through his lyrics he creates a parallel world fraught with similar political dangers to our own and discusses how Gen Z have been abandoned by those in power.
The chaotic opening song ‘You Better Believe!!!’ starts the album with an anarchic bang, encapsulating the frenzied tone of the album. McKenna suggests that the world just keeps getting crazier and young people just have to get used to it (The time has come where rocket boots and lasers / Lose their flavours like gum stuck to your heels”), which given this album was delayed due to the worldwide pandemic, seems rather fitting.
Although many of the tracks are upbeat and hectic, ‘Be an Astronaut’, is a standout, its melancholic theme a subtle nod to the difficulty of existing outside of society’s identity borders: “You said I could be just what I wanted / They said you’re lying / Well, you were born to be an astronaut / And you’ll do that or die trying”.
Zeros is more succinct in sound and theme than McKenna’s debut, but he still establishes himself as Gen Z’s musical answer to the rapidly shifting political climate, someone who understands what it’s like to live amongst so much chaos at a young age, and isn’t afraid to speak his mind. His new album only further carves out his sound and solidifies him as one of the biggest rising stars in indie rock at the moment.
(Image Credit: Chuff Media)