Artist of the Week (23/01/17) – Declan McKenna

Each week Vulture Hound picks a new artist you should definitely be checking out. This week, Samantha explains why Declan McKenna deserves your attention.

At eighteen years old and an alt-pop sound in tow, Declan McKenna is set to be every teenager’s dream, but he’s so much more than that. McKenna’s activist brain means that as accessible as his songs are, each one comes with a portrayal of the world. While his young age may mean that he doesn’t necessarily have the answer to change, he’s definitely using his voice to open our eyes, to ponder the power of politics and to cast more thought to the world we live in.

Take new single ‘The Kids Don’t Wanna Come Home’ for example. Initially inspired by a series of events in 2015, it wasn’t until McKenna was in Paris during the attack on November 13th, that the meaning of the track really came together. A track that was first intended to relay McKenna’s mere frustrations of his generation’s voice not being heard, developed into a portrayal of this real sense of fear surrounding the feeling of powerlessness as a young person in today’s world. Someone who can only watch what’s going on, forced to go along with whatever is thrown at them. Being in Paris at the time of the attacks drove this song to hold so much more meaning, McKenna feeling the effects of the attack on those around him, feeling helpless and pained that this kind of occurrence is far too common these days.

The song is the sign of a kid wise beyond his years, someone who can take a difficult topic and put it into a catchy pop song without any means of exploitation.

McKenna recently released the official video for ‘The Kids Don’t Wanna Come Home’ complete with statements from fellow young adults on the state of the world they are forced to live in. Watch, below.

The political pop path didn’t start here though. McKenna made himself known with his single ‘Brazil’ last year, critiquing FIFA’s world of money, power and fame, all while leaving us singing his song over and over. From the moment he put himself out there, he’s presented himself to be more than a music lover. The special thing about McKenna isn’t necessarily his sound, though we do absolutely love it, it’s his approach to utilising two passions in order to make himself heard, creatively painting his view on politics to a world that otherwise wouldn’t listen.

An appearance on Later…With Jools Holland, saw a glittery McKenna perform with the support of a band, allowing him to express himself more actively, where before his solo performances may have been somewhat reclusive. His alt-pop sound glimmers with psychedelic grooves, while vocals fluctuate between melancholy tones and delicate howls. This all comes with a persistent energy that reaches an all time high, as McKenna jumps from his spot and quite literally forces himself into the foreground, demanding attention as he reveals a statement t-shirt that reads ‘Give 17 Year Olds The Vote’. At this point it almost seems certain that with every song from McKenna, we can expect there to be a purpose beyond fun to listen to.

Though his songs may tackle the drone of world politics, he manages to create something inherently enjoyable, never leaving us to drown in the doom and gloom of society. Instead, McKenna pushes motivation for change, while providing a kicky little jam to keep us going.

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Declan McKenna is on tour now. Debut album is due for release this Spring.

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