Last year was a gargantuan one for 17-year-old multi-instrumentalist Declan McKenna. He popped his first single on Bandcamp and the result was a political slot on Sky News, a Glastonbury Emerging Talent victory and a contract with Columbia. He was even saluted by some for driving the downfall of a certain slimy FIFA president.
Of course, it’s this giddy furore that lures us to the Hertfordshire teen’s coastal date tonight despite January’s pestering chill. That and the prospect of a new full-band line-up, which threatens to elevate him above “raw promise” status in The Hope & Ruin‘s stylishly dilapidated surrounds.
With backing beyond the loop pedal that soundtracked his formative shows, his abstract electro pop reaches dizzying new heights. ‘Paracetamol’ is every bit the future festival anthem – an eclectic mix of proggy electro pop, slacker rock and real talk – which sounds like Patrick Wolf circa ‘The Magic Position’ covering Weezer in parts. It’s topped (only just) by his Mac DeMarco-like fretwork and emotive adolescent croon on ‘Brazil’ – the hooky football corruption epic that first put him into public consciousness. Synthy wonk pop closer ‘Isabelle’ proves infinitely impressive too; as McKenna’s turquoise-painted nails dance across the keys, his contagious hooks recall those scattered all over Clap Your Hands Say Yeah‘s lauded debut LP.
Constantly earworming and more nuanced than some of the infectious indie types to which he’s already been likened, McKenna proves 2K15 was no fluke; we predict he’ll be evolving and pushing pop’s boundaries for some years to come.