A daringly ambitious depiction of dystopian discourse...

“We’re gonna get ourselves killed!” is one sentiment you could take from Declan McKenna’s new album ‘Zeros’. A record that utilises dystopia as a mirror to articulate modern day concerns, reaching epic proportions of impending doom.

Breathtakingly chaotic, you find yourself cast off into orbit above Earth, dodging laser blasts of synthesiser, trying to find your bearings between piano sections and riffs that swell like supernovas. To top it all off, an asteroid has come to finish us off for good and that’s just the opening track. Bowie’s influence on Declan is apparent, with moments on ‘Zeros’ born out of the space dust left behind when Ziggy Stardust sailed through the solar system.

There’s a space cowboy moment with the song ‘Twice Your Size’, which has gathered an air of Nashville, the city in which the album was recorded. The riffs buoyant after being imbued with a country sway, with sudden uptakes in intensity bringing about some of the record’s strongest hooks. An intelligent observer of the societal issues and concerns faced by a generation of young people on his debut, Declan has turned his gaze to humanity as a whole.

Combining the doomsday of the past (a flood of biblical proportions) with one of the theorised future (a big space rock), ‘Zeros’ not only observes modern times but serves us with a warning note of accountability. After all we are often distracted by social media awarding us instant gratification, diving into the internet’s deepest depths for the next best conspiracy and locked up in the comfortability of consumerism. The Earth is sending us serious signals about needing to avoid catastrophic climate change, but capitalism’s apathy for non-profitable action is made clear by the lyric, “I’m off out to buy a bag of quavers and Nike trainers, comfort you can feel”.

On ‘Zeros’ Declan McKenna has upped the scales to contextualise current discourse, removing himself from the main narrative in the meantime. In almost every way it is bigger than his debut, there’s urgency to the instrumentals and operatic crescendos, all in the aid of trying to observe the madness. Alas, it is time to settle down, put on your 3D glasses and watch it all end in glorious high definition.


Words: Matthew Pywell

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