There is probably a decent correlation between people who’ll fail to ‘get’ Declan McKenna and those who still can’t get their heads around last month’s general election result. Declan, like any very suspecting member of Generation Z, is a mishmash of just about everything, knowingly contradicting himself at every twist and turn his debut takes.
See, while there’s a huge swathe of ‘What Do You Think About The Car?’ that could well owe its sound to the dour singalongs of the post-Britpop years, everything here is doused in sonic hundreds-and-thousands, the kind of synth beeps and squelches and breakdowns your average bucket hat would turn their sunburnt nose up at. A floppy-haired teen singer-songwriter Declan may be - Jake Bugg he’s definitely not.
Throughout the record’s eleven tracks, subjects both big and small are taken on. There’s the FIFA-baiting single ‘Brazil’, ‘Bethlehem’ and its take on religion and warfare, ‘Isombard’ and its right-wing media, and the ferociously delicate ‘Paracetamol’, written after learning of the suicide of transgender teen Leelah Alcorn, sitting effortlessly alongside the twisted love song ‘Make Me Your Queen’, the lovelorn ‘Mind’ and the angst-ridden ‘The Kids Don’t Want To Come Home’.
Then, as the whole shebang is introduced by an infant Declan being asked by an older sibling about the family car of the title, a concept later echoed by present-day Declan attempting to explain his song to a small child, there’s a
nice reminder of the massive personality that underpins everything on show here. Because while a very strong album ‘What Do You Think About The Car?’ definitely is, it’s impossible to extricate it from the songwriter himself.