Declan McKenna’s second album, ‘Zeros,’ is out of this world


Anika Brown

“Be an Astronaut” and blast off into outer space while listening to Declan McKenna’s new album “Zeros.”

On Sept. 4, Declan McKenna, Britain’s rising indie rocker, released his sophomore album, titled “Zeros,” instantly gaining radio recognition all over the world. While listening to “Zeros,” the modern-electric rock album withdraws you from reality and captivates you in a parallel universe.

The 21-year-old’s second studio album is a step away from his first album “What Do You Think About The Car?” While they both continue to have McKenna’s signature altercations of pitch, McKenna’s second album isn’t the indie-rock vibe that “What Do You Think About The Car?” had encompassed. Alternatively, “Zeros” carries a sound similar to a 70s ambiance.

Starting off the album strong, “You Better Believe!!!” establishes the blasting groove and upbeat feel of the songs to come later in the album. From all that I’ve heard in the music world, McKenna takes a bold step in expressing opinionated stances that are scattered throughout his lyrics. Recurring themes throughout his music career are about sexual identity, gender equality and politics.

With a dash of a futuristic style mixed with today’s pop music, the next two tracks on “Zeros”, “Be an Astronaut” and “The Key to Life on Earth” leave your mind with an ultra modern vibe, sending you to a different world. “The Key to Life on Earth,” McKenna strongly expresses his own opinion on such a controversial stance to take, as the topic of wealth and income gap has been an issue for many families for years.

“You kids and your jokes / Asking where we got our jeans / And where the hell we found our coats / ‘Cause dirty streets these days are graced by Nikes of black and green / And headstrong boys in chinos barely grasp what that could mean”

Moving to an acoustic guitar, “Emily” represents the toxic side of a personal relationship. We’ve all had that night where we just strive to curl up in a ball and cry endlessly, at least I know I have. For some odd reason, “Emily” has been that shoulder to cry on throughout quarantine, helping me through my hopeless romantic life.

The seventh track on “Zeros”, “Twice Your Size” has a different take than most music this year. “Twice Your Size” has more of an environmentalist vibe to it. McKenna decides to center it on the worst case scenario to climate change and focuses on an end of the world situation. “Twice Your Size” is definitely my favorite song on the album as it brings up a topic that isn’t necessarily popular among musicians, yet needs to be emphasized in society.

“Earth will change and we must grab our beds / And get out of range / The Sun, who nobody can touch”

Next up on the album is the lead single, “Beautiful Faces” which carries McKenna’s familiar indie sound. With lively and upbeat instrumentation, his lyrics are an insight into how terrifying and pressurized living in the twenty-first century can be, especially as a teenager.

Continuing with his usual noteworthy opinions, the fifth track “Daniel, You’re Still a Child” mentions the growing mental health issues among the young generation. Gently touching on the hardships and baggage of being a teenager (something I’m sure a lot of teens know of), McKenna comforts the listeners by saying his signature terms of endearment throughout his songs.

“Daniel, you did it, you made me cry / you spent ten days in bed when I asked you why / And requested my whereabouts through tweets / Darling why do you bury yourself in sheets?”

Transitioning to a heavier, psychedelic sound, “Rapture” has a feel similar to David Bowie, but McKenna made a classic guitar sound into a one of a kind song. He captures a sonic of a more electric experience for the listener, showing his definite growth from his first debut album. After listening to “Rapture,” I always get the feeling to stand up and just dance, even though I can not dance to save my life.

Fitting to the theme of McKenna’s album, his ninth track, “Sagittarius A*” is also the name of a ginormous black hole. “Sagittarius A*” explains the feelings of being a star and brings everything around you down, just as a black hole would. Emphasizing on the difference between powers in society, connecting back to the idea of his home being taken away by a higher power, in “The Key to Life on Earth.”

Ending the album is McKenna’s tenth and final track “Eventually, Darling.” Every album needs a sad love song, and McKenna doesn’t fail; the song is specifically focused around his vocals. As the song starts with a softer guitar riff, it flawlessly transitions to a more electronic-rock vibe by the second verse.

Yet again, McKenna never fails to impress myself and the world with his music. Even though his newest album was a step in a different direction from his debut album, McKenna impresses the industry with his unique, intergalactic vibe in “Zeros.”