Making my way back through North London, slate grey Victorian skies hang overhead like the set of some drab school production. Carried by a current of commuters, suffocating under a lethargic smog, I stumble from the train to the platform, falling into a spare seat, elbows to knees to watch the train tracks.
Someone has spilt a can of silver paint on the platform. It pools and spreads, a puddle sparkling, seeping into the cracks, staining the soles of shoes, leaving footprints on the stairs by the exit. Its strange, almost out of place as it oozes and drips from the platform to the gravel below. Stones which have remained untouched for years now glimmering under the weak evening sun. Its no revolution, but its different and I like it.
Declan Mckenna's What Do You Think About The Car? Is the musical equivalent of that strange silver paint; it's no revolution, but its different and I like it.
Mckenna is not the voice of a generation (we're barely breaking 25) but he is the voice our generation needs. We maybe 90's babies but we are children of the new century. Raised during the double dip recession, we never got a Britpop revolution, we're only nostalgic for cool Britannia because "cool" is the last word we'd choose to describe our country. In school we were told that adolescence without university was worthless, a failure. We were taught that hard work was the key to success, and then we were told that we wouldn't get a pension, that we wouldn't get healthcare. That our children, if we could bare to bring them into the world, would suffer for our grandparent's mistakes and as a result we've all come to the meek conclusion that our future will be a "grin and bear it" kind of pitiful compromise. We're the disenfranchised youth of the day and we're not angry, we're just very disappointed.
What Do You Think About The Car? Is an iconoclastic silver lining. Its optimistic, with socially aware lyrics that bring a flooding sense of alleviation. "Go online, do your ten minutes of research and find that the problem is poor kids who want holidays in term time, the problem is poor kids who can't afford the train fare, so we up the train fare and charge them for not paying the train fare. The problem is welfare, and the problem is free healthcare," He talks as though he's writing free verse, eyes closed with pen to paper writing the first thing which comes to him and though for many cases artists are unable to pull off lines like these, in Mckenna's case his lyrics only highlight his maturity. Having built himself up from nothing, without the help of any universities, Declan Mckenna has, without making it his mission, proved many an uncomfortable parents evening wrong. Barely even a year ago a friend and I watched him play to no more than 50 people in Guilford's The Boileroom. This year he played a sellout show at the same venue, with glitter stained teenagers queuing for hours outside desperate to speak to him because he speaks to them.
Opening with Humongous the album feels like brushing sleep from your eyelashes in the early afternoon, the sun through your widow leaving you headachey and slow. As it builds it wakes you up, the bridge all fairy lights flashing on and off, teenagers arguing on the back step of a Saturday night house party. "I'm gonna throw up, oh baby when will you grow up? You've been such a joke this week, You think you're funny, when you're talking all loud and your nose is all runny," Lyrics like these seem almost thoughtless, the kind of careless comment you make when your drinks have caught up with you and left you restless, ready to regret it in the morning.
Make Me Your Queen is the sun poking through the clouds after the rain, your feet splashing in the puddles left to evaporate on the pavement under an unexpected heatwave.
The album closes with Listen To Your Friends, a heavenly introduction, yawning and stretching, sunrise and sundown, lazy days like walking home from school on the last day of term before six weeks of serenity.
With silver skied production Mckenna has developed a sound more akin to MGMT and Vampire Weekend than the drab Arctic Monkeys tribute acts we've come to expect from up and coming indie artists. Refreshing and free of clichés - despite nods to the 90's our generation wishes we'd grown up with - this record doesn't sound familiar, it doesn’t sound old, reused, recycled or regurgitated.