Zeros Album Review

Megan Krok, Views Editor

Declan McKenna’s bachelor album Zeros, released earlier this year in September, has easily become my favorite new music release of 2020. Although Zeros has a much different sound than the indie artist’s debut album What Do You Think About the Car?, it surely did not disappoint.

With a duration of forty minutes, the dynamic, lively indie rock-pop album has a somewhat of an eerie, dystopian message that listeners might not catch right away. Zeros taps into McKenna’s worries about society’s reliance on technology and social media and how this will impact the future of humanity. “The internet is anxiety-inducing. I can have a tiny bit of pride in myself for the fact that I do stick up for things I believe in, but social media is so good at making you feel like you’re not doing enough,” McKenna expressed in his feature for NME back in September.

This isn’t the first time the twenty-one year old artist has used thought-provoking messaging in his songs, as a majority of his 2017 album discusses social issues including LGBTQ+ and religion. Although the singer’s focus on humanity and social justice remain the same, the sounds he creates in Zeros is completely different from that of his first album.

Right off the bat, the opening track’s “You Better Believe!!!” rapid and upbeat rhythm with drums and guitar instantly had me hooked and wanting more. This was my favorite track during my first listen, and after multiple repeats of the album, this intro track remains at the top of my list. It made me want to instantly get up and dance, but not in a cliché, Top 40 pop hit kind of way. Yet, the intensity of “You Better Believe!!!” does not stop there.

But first, let’s discuss the album’s second track, “Be an Astronaut”. I would consider this track to be more of a ballad. With the moody piano and electric guitar throughout, I can easily see McKenna’s 70’s glam rock inspiration come into play. So if you enjoy 70’s artists similar to David Bowie like I do, I would make sure to check this one out. The ballad aspect of this piece also shows the maturity and growth of the British singer’s music since his first album.

Going further into the sound of this album, I really enjoyed McKenna’s incorporation of a few somewhat unorthodox instruments. His use of xylophone in “Beautiful Faces”, the synthesizer in “Daniel, You’re Still a Child”, and organ in “Twice Your Size” and “Sagittarius A*” furthered the artistic boundaries McKenna pushed throughout this album. In comparison to the lowkey sound and approach he took during What Do You Think About the Car?, McKenna creatively lets loose and does not hold back whatsoever. He has successfully achieved a totally funky and electrifying sound that I don’t think he has previously accomplished.

However, there are certain tracks, like “Emily”, that just don’t really stand out to me. This song in particular sounds a little whiny in comparison to the other tracks. And while I do enjoy some whiny soft-rock from time to time, I don’t really think it fit’s McKenna’s style, at least in this album. Despite this, the slower and more relaxed songs are a great way to break up the intensity of the other songs. After all, it would be tiring if every song was just as energetic as the next.

Overall, if you enjoy any form of rock, alternative, or indie music, Zeros definitely has something to offer for you. The inspiration Declan McKenna pulls from different genres, particularly glam rock, is evident throughout each and every track. You can check out Zeros on Spotify, Apple Music, and YouTube Music!