Declan McKenna – Zeros

The boy's done good.
Rating: ★★★★★

There’s a lot to be said for a jolly nice vibe. In a world packed with aggression, negative emotions and a simmering contempt for the other side of quite-literally-any debate, quite often modern life can feel quite a lot like being trapped in a pressure cooker full of bile and hatred. Most who try to tackle such a landscape do it in a way that has either the whiff of resignation or such violent aggression it only serves to heighten the already unbearable tension. But not our boy Dec.

‘Zeros’ isn’t an album that lives outside of the real world – far from it – but it’s also one that shines so spectacularly it can’t help but feel utterly fantastical. In the time between Declan McKenna’s debut album, ‘What Do You Think About The Car?’, and now, indie’s much-heralded boy wonder has blossomed in a way that few could have expected. No longer the youngest kid on the block, he may well still be the freshest of the lot.

With a sprinkle of stardust, a glam swagger and an ear for a great hook, much of ‘Zeros’ sounds positively huge. ‘The Key To Life On Earth’ is a box-fresh classic, while ‘Daniel, You’re Still A Child’ is a winding, fascinating collection of ideas – and perhaps a bite back at the patronising attitudes towards the younger generation – wrapped up in a solid gold bop. The weirdo pop of ‘Rapture’, oddball but mirror-ball-brilliant, is timeless in its execution, as is the occasionally Strokes-esque jangle of ‘Sagittarius A’ – a track so New York cool you can almost hear the still-lit cigarette held between its metaphorical bass strings. It’s the majestic ‘Eventually, Darling’ that truly shines, though. Waltzing melody, bizarre hook line and save-the-last-dance shimmer combine bombast and subtlety brilliantly.

With big ideas to consider, there’s no inner-city tension or brooding menace to overwhelm Declan McKenna’s second opus. Like his peers around him, he’s out to change the world with positive actions, love and awareness. A star to rise those around him higher rather than drag them down into the mud, Dec remains the trailblazer for an indie scene that is casting aside its often toxic legacy and embracing a more inclusive, positive future. The boy’s done good.

Stephen Ackroyd

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