1,253 days later, a new Declan McKenna album is here. Returning with his third studio album, ‘What Happened To The Beach?’, alongside 14 UK and Ireland tour dates, it is time for McKenna to soundtrack our upcoming summer once again.

The whole album has a weirdly wholesome note to it. Despite the success Declan’s achieved over his career so far, his latest doesn’t stray away from the artist we love. It’s a different sound from his two previously released albums but is still so fundamentally Declan McKenna. The songs feel built but built upon. Each track feels as though they have been spawned out of an acoustic guitar and have been gradually crafted to make this latest album. McKenna yet again captures the uplifting feeling that accompanies his music and is an impressive reflection of one of Britain’s great modern songwriters.

McKenna’s honest writing style shines through once again. The tracks are well crafted, yet simple and still capture the typical bedroom sound that shaped his music. Produced alongside Gianluca Buccellati, the album doesn’t feel too overproduced which seems to be becoming rarer with music recently. Opening track, ‘WOBBLE’, I feel does this best. Featuring the slight fret buzz of an acoustic guitar, it keeps the authentic feel Declan has never let slip.

The closing track on the album does feel slightly cryptic however, the mellow 48 seconds of ‘4 More Years’ completes this third record, but leaves us asking ‘four more years until what?’ before cutting to McKenna saying ‘It’d be a cool ending’. This ambiguous finish took me by surprise slightly. Paired with ‘It’s all an act’, the tail end of ‘What Happened To The Beach?’ takes the album on melancholy finale to the otherwise typically laid back track listing.

I feel McKenna displayed a very vulnerable side in this album. The penultimate track, ‘Its An Act’ felt like a slight call for help in which he opens up about life on the road. Written from the third person and featuring lyrics such as ‘so you call it a show, it’s an act’, it’s a sad, yet truthful insight into the struggles of a performer. It’s refreshing to hear an artist being honest in their music. After all, music is an expression of feelings, and McKenna gives us an insight into the hardship of being a regularly touring artist who feels the pressure to put on a show for the people that have come to see him.

As I was listening to this album, my Nan came into my room. ‘Ooh, he’s got a lovely voice’, she said as ‘Honest Test’ chirped along. Now this might not be the best compliment he’ll receive in his career, but it summed up the album nicely. Amongst the new sounds and instrumentation, it still is Declan McKenna to the core and like usual, is a pleasure to listen to. As a front runner of the United Kingdom’s indie scene, Dec sets the bar high and has delivered once again.

Declan McKenna: What Happened To The Beach? – Out 9th February 2024 (Columbia Records)

McKenna – Nothing Works (Official Video) (youtube.com)