declan mckenna what happened to the beach

Declan McKenna – What Happened to the Beach? (Album Review)

declan mckenna 2024

Only recently turning twenty-five years old, Declan McKenna is an artist who has already accomplished a great deal at such a young age. Initially stirring up a mass of attention at seventeen after he entered the Glastonbury Festival’s Emerging Talent Competition in 2015, reportedly, more than forty record labels sought to sign him. Deciding on Columbia Records, McKenna released his acclaimed debut album What Do You Think About the Car? in 2017, followed by extremely impressive follow up Zeros in 2020. Both efforts he should be proud of, since that time, McKenna has grown, thus resulting in what could be his most interesting work to date looking at the forthcoming release of What Happened to the Beach?

Set for release on February 9, 2024 through McKenna’s own Tomplicated Records, What Happened to the Beach? comes three and a half years after the release of Zeros. Something that should be considered, the bulk of Zeros was written before he even turned twenty-one. At the time showing ample maturity – writing clever Alternative Rock with Pop leanings that appealed to a large audience – to follow was extensive touring, and a few more years of life experience.

With that, McKenna was able to expand his horizons seeking further understanding of who he is, how to process the ever-changing world around him, and ultimately deciding who he wants to be as a singer-songwriter. Sure, he could very well be satisfied with sticking to what others, including himself, expect… or he could dare to step outside the box. In the case of What Happened to the Beach?, McKenna opted to verge outside preconceptions and created an album that is rather free-form in many regards.

Still indeed something that fits within the Pop Rock world, there is certainly a less structural vibe within What Happened to the Beach? Going out to California earlier in 2023, McKenna teamed up with Gianluca Buccellati for the writing and recording sessions which would become the album. This in mind, much of what you hear from this collection very much sounds like you are in the room as the songs are being recorded. This is rather than having them being polished up and wrapped in a bow for you to easily unwrap. An aspect that may have some curious, but others confused, it is recommended to be patient with What Happened To The Beach?, because the payoff is worth it.

In all, the album consists of sixteen tracks including the four previously released singles – “Sympathy,” “Nothing Works,” “Elevator Hum,” and “Mulholland’s Dinner and Wine.” Each unique to the other, the mood is spacy, a little quirky, but still extremely intriguing. With the singles already out there, what is to follow is more trippy tunes where the tones are vastly reminiscent of a foggy dream. This is the case with cuts such as “WOBBLE,” “Elevator Hum,” and “I Write The News.”  Then others, like “Honest Test” and “Mezzanine,” further prove McKenna’s comfort in experimenting with how he presents a song idea.

Overall, What Happened to the Beach? is probably not what you would expect as the next step for Declan McKenna, but that is more than likely the point. Sonically it is out of this world with the guitars, synthesizers, and every sound in-between. Think of something David Bowie, The Beatles during their later years, or perhaps The Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson may conjured up, and the morphed creative monster is What Happened to the Beach? It is unconventional and keeps you guessing. Again, it is something that may not appeal to all, but still a bold move for McKenna that shows how talented he truly is. A record to put on, sit back and let consume you, Cryptic Rock gives What Happened to the Beach? 4 out of 5 stars.

declan mckenna what happened to the beach
Declan McKenna  – What Happened To The Beach? / Tomplicated Records (2024)

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