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  • Writer's pictureZim Ahmadi

[TRACK REVIEW] 'The Key To Life On Earth' - Declan McKenna

Declan McKenna’s single from his upcoming album ‘Zeros’ waxes poetry on the pointlessness of finding life’s meaning


English singer-songwriter Declan McKenna is a gateway for many looking to revisit the early 2000s brand of post-punky rock that’s both bright and cynical. His debut album, ‘What Do You Think About The Car?’ wasn’t perfect. It was riddled with songwriting that felt like it was trying too hard. But I fell in love with Declan’s lyrical ambition anyway, especially with hit single ‘Brazil’ and even the rock ballad, ‘Make Me Your Queen’. He definitely has a lot of artistic personality and doesn’t bother with the boring. ‘The Key to Life On Earth’ sees Declan McKenna trying a more polished sound, but still with the same kind of instrumental palette he honed back in his debut. The thing that keeps Declan’s new stuff interesting are the little details in the production. You’ve got the steady crescendo to seemingly inevitable mania at the end, the little harmonies he does with those tiny, demented vocals and the short pieces of distortion: all of which shows him sharpening his ability to craft a solid song structure while containing an adequate amount of lunacy. The lyrical stuff in this song packs a good punch too. Although not incredibly poignant, - either in an on-the-nose or subtle way - whatever Declan does with his words creates a very visual depiction of a type of class confusion, or a disenchantment with modernity. The chants at the end capture this perfectly: “Come work in Sainsburys babe until you’ve had enough//

come on out come on out”. In an interview with Radio 1 Future Sounds, he stated: "This song I recorded for my album in Nashville last year. I grew up in a very suburban world, and I wrote this song sort of based around areas of suburbia and the stuff I saw. In a way, it reflects how I feel about how hostile human relationships can be and how humans can be towards each other despite how similar they often are. It’s thinking about all those things and thinking about hostility when generally it all just comes from a place that’s solvable, or resolvable. […] I really, really like this one". At its core though, The Key To Life On Earth is not Declan McKenna venturing into new horizons. Its only flaw would probably be that it’s still pretty much the same old Declan, make of that what you will. Whatever you love about him in the first album is still found pretty much intact in his latest two singles. The music video for this single is classic Declan McKenna absurdism, acting alongside Alex Lawther, who plays his conjoined-twin-cum-doppelganger? I think that sentence made sense. Zeros comes out 21 August 2020. RATING: 3.5 / 5

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