Winning the Glastonbury Emerging Talent Competition at 15, Declan McKenna was swiftly hyped as a musical prodigy. His debut single ‘Brazil’ helped – it’s a piece of jaunty, jangly indie-pop on the surface, but with lyrics that take a dig at corruption within football organisation FIFA. Right from the off, it was obvious McKenna’s teenagehood didn’t make him a slave to any stereotypes.
On debut album ‘What Do You Think About The Car?’, there’s swagger to McKenna’s delivery but no cockiness. Instead, he narrates his innermost feelings on everything from politics (‘Isombard’) to the media’s treatment of transgender suicide (‘Paracetamol’) with subtlety and skill. Standout ‘Make Me Your Queen’ is a rare moment of intimacy as he laments the ache of unrequited love, again with a delicacy and wisdom beyond his years.
To all intents and purposes McKenna is a teen breakout star, but describing him that way feels reductive after listening to his debut, on which he proves himself a serious lyricist who deserves more than to be put in a box.