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Declan McKenna - What Do You Think About The Car?

  • Published in UNX

You’ve surely heard of the teenage wunderkind Declan McKenna at some point in the past two years. His debut song, ‘Brazil’ was a comment on the 2014 World Cup and FIFA’s blind eye to the local issues surrounding it. He entered it in Glastonbury’s Emerging Talent contest and won a slot at the festival. He was signed up by management behemoth Q Prime, and at the following year’s festival, he signed to Columbia Records. Which brings us to this, his debut album.

After recording ‘Brazil’ himself, What Do You Think About the Car? was produced by James Ford, known for his work with established acts like Arctic Monkeys and Depeche Mode. Ford’s influence is most noticeable on new song ‘Make Me Your Queen’, which is slick and refined compared to the previously released tracks.

Five of the songs have previously been released. Along with the aforementioned ‘Brazil’, there’s the Fox News-baiting ‘Isombard’, and the contemplation of organised religion in ‘Bethlehem’. ‘Paracetamol’ was inspired by the abhorrent treatment and subsequent suicide of a transgender teenager. His latest single ‘The Kids Don't Wanna Come Home’ is the recent general election in microcosm. McKenna has said that:

“It's about wanting to be part of a powerful and intelligent young generation - who stand up against these negative things we're shown incessantly on our phones. There's a lot of confusing information out there - but I'd like to be hopeful in a world that's often thought to be in despair”.

Regarding the new songs, it would be surprising if ‘Mind’ is not released as a single. It has a catchy chorus and a post-punk lead guitar riff that you’ll be humming after hearing it. McKenna comes off like Ray Davies at times and, on ‘I Am Everyone Else’ he counters The Kinks outsider classic ‘I’m Not Like Everybody Else’ with a modern inclusivity that we can only hope will overcome the isolationist individualism we’ve seen in recent years.

It’s too early to judge Declan McKenna properly but What Do You Think About the Car? is a consistently impressive work of imaginative tunes and accomplished lyrics. If he can retain his individuality amid the major label hype and sludge, he’ll be one to watch for a while to come.

What Do You Think About the Car? is available via Amazon and iTunes.


Tom Odell - Wrong Crowd

  • Published in Albums

We first witnessed the song writing talents of Tom Odell at The Great Escape festival a few years back. It’s amazing to see the transformation of a local Sussex lad into a potential global star.

Following his million selling debut album, Long Way Down, that achieved success and even saw Odell accept an Ivor Novello award, he is now back with his new album Wrong Crowd. 

The single ‘Wrong Crowd’ is the opening number and first single from the album. It finds Mr Odell in a laid back groove. The song writing skills have clearly remained from his previous productions, as this is a wonderful welcoming track that alleviates any fears of the second album syndrome striking Odell down. The track is a summery, uplifting yet cautionary tale of hanging round with the wrong crowd. There are clear production difference from the raw talents of his debut album sound.

‘Magnetised’ is the second single from the album and his uplifting vocals continue to be backed with a well-produced relaxed, almost lazy dance rhythm. The added strings create a huge cornucopia of sound that show the producer Jim Abbiss of Adele and Arctic Monkeys fame has clearly understood the strength of Odell’s ability to deliver big dramatic melodies. Odell himself has spoken about the album and how it’s at heart, a concept album:

“The album follows a narrative of a man held at ransom by his childhood, yearning for it, yearning for nature- a desire for innocence in this perverse world in which he now lives. It’s a fictional story but the emotions and feelings are obviously ones I have felt, though the stories are elaborated and exaggerated. I wanted to create a world with a heightened sense of reality.”

‘Concrete’ is a much slower affair and allows Odell to display his full vocal range. It also highlights his ability to deliver a narrative with wonderful poignancy as he describes the confines of a concrete bed and the imprisonment within. This slower pace continues with the carefully constructed beautiful ballad in ‘Constellations’ and the haunting and mesmerising delivery of ‘Sparrow’ which both fully cement Odell’s ability to create an songs with integrity and honesty.

‘Still Getting Used to Being On My Own’ is a more upbeat powerful song with a title that delivers content in exactly the way we would expect. Its heart wrenching, full of examples to express his loneliness. ‘Daddy’ is a track that draws in our ear with its poignant and powerful wordplay.  It’s also backed by a powerful growling guitar sound, which kind of wakes our ears up after the more slow paced sombreness of the last few previous tracks. This is Tom Odell back on course doing what he does best.

It leads the end of the album into the latest single ‘Here I Am’ which is a clever slick love song delivered with his wit and charm and backed with an lazy head nodding beat that allows the track to move along at a perfect pace. As with a lot of Odell’s material it’s not a straightforward track and once again his clever use of lyrics open up emotional thoughts and imagery as well as being able to deliver a classic pop song.

The album is finished off by ‘Somehow’ which is a simple, melancholy acoustic track. It shows his true talent for delivering stripped back poignant love songs dealing with the start and end of relationships.

It fair to say that not only has Mr Odell safely sailed through the trick second album syndrome, he has open up his sound and produced another album of great beauty with the potential for huge commercial success. Not bad for a scrawny kid from the Sussex coast.

Wrong Crowd is available via Amazon & iTunes. 

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