Declan McKenna’s new album is worth ‘phantom buzz’

Photo Courtesy of Spotify

By Kassidy Tsikitas | Photo Editor

Unlike Declan McKenna’s first album, which highlighted world and personal problems, “What Happened to the Beach?” brings a new era of happiness to the alternative world in the third album from the British alt-pop star.

McKenna’s trend in his music is to bring light to issues, such as what he did with “Brazil,” which is an anti-FIFA song. His new album has songs that touch base with self-doubt masked by happy high-pitched sounds — which brings us to the first track.

“WOBBLE” sets the tone for the album. The opening line is, “What happened to the beach?” It goes on to paint a picture of waiting for time to pass while enjoying the beach. The song goes on to say that the years are going by quickly, and times are changing. The title of the album brings together the torture of growing up and how the change is better for you.

The strongest song on the album is “Sympathy,” diving into the deception of society masking its true, authentic self. A repeating part of the song goes on to say, “Why did you make it up, and now they all believe you.” McKenna also repeats, “You don’t need to be clever,” inviting the listener to shed their layers. Sympathy is what we lack most in this world, due to all the masking, and McKenna wants us to feel free to be ourselves.

McKenna writes “The Phantom Buzz (Kick In)” to depict the highs and lows of behaviors. He talks about how the character is unable to stay away from her dangerous behaviors and is easily influenced. “A poisoned brain” can only mean the character suffered from a form of substance abuse, which she kept giving in to and which led her to rock bottom.

Compared to his last two albums, McKenna outdid himself. “What Do You Think About the Car?” and “Zeros” also highlighted problems, but his music has grown up with him. His career only starting at 16 years old shows how much he has matured and how his views have slightly changed. “What Happened to the Beach?” is a carefully curated album that brings a more intentional experience.

An honorable mention is the ending of the album, “4 More Years,” referencing how McKenna releases a new album every four years. The three albums go from a maturing songwriter with a teenage mind, to a cosmic upbringing, to a down-to-earth set of music, making this his best album yet.