“Zeros” is an instrumental and lyrical masterpiece

Declan McKenna makes a phenomenal return with his sophomore album.

Lauren McBride, Arts and Entertainment Editor

In his latest creation, “Zeros,” young singer and musician Declan McKenna covers topics of societal issues, the effects of technology on the mind and how change influences people. An evidently very personal piece, this follow-up to McKenna’s 2017 album “What Do You Think About the Car?” is both an instrumental and lyrical masterpiece.


The sound of “Zeros” is distinct from McKenna’s previous work, placing a greater emphasis on the “rock” portion of “indie rock.” The album kicks off with a bang with “You Better Believe!!!,” effortlessly combining drums, bass and piano to create the perfect upbeat audio mix for indie rock fans. The track merges cheerful synths and loud, ascending vocals for a catchy beginning to the album.

Though many of the tracks contain similar elements and sounds, each one includes components that makes it unique. “The Key to Life on Earth” sounds more mainstream and does not stand out as much as the others, but places emphasis on the drum beats. The album dips closer into true indie sounds with “Emily,” which sounds almost folk-like but mixes in interesting electronic sound effects. “Twice Your Size” introduces a more upbeat tune, making it the perfect option to blast on the road or during a trip to the beach. However, the hardcore bass and drum solo toward the end gives the song its unique twist.


Though the tunes will inevitably have you bobbing your head or dancing around the room, there is much more to “Zeros” than guitar riffs and catchy beats. McKenna covers a wide variety of issues that are personal to him in each song. “Be an Astronaut,” a track that stands out due to its mellower mood and ethereal vocals, encompasses the themes of the album as a whole to an extent. McKenna discusses childhood dreams of being an astronaut and how those dreams can lead to damage and disappointment later in life.

This track also introduces the character Daniel, who only appears in “Be an Astronaut” and “Daniel, You’re Still a Child.” The songs portray Daniel as a kid who has lost himself due to society pushing him away and telling him he is not “normal.” “Daniel, You’re Still a Child” encourages listeners to look out for everybody, even when they may not fit society’s standards of “normal,” because the effects often go unnoticed until it is too late. McKenna ends on a somber note, singing, “You just wait ‘till Daniel hurts himself.”


Rapture” is one of the more distinctive tracks on the album, riddled with screamed lyrics as well as sound effects to occasionally warble the vocals. McKenna begins and ends the song by repeating the words, “jet black.” This is a creative allusion to technology and its often jet black color schemes, following the song’s message that everything a consumer sees online and on the news can instill a fear of the future. In the first verse, he sings, “You know, there’s all sorts of crap on TV these days / Now you won’t live after such disaster.”

Sagittarius A*” takes on the metaphor of the black hole at the center of the Milky Way by the same name, which is thought to be gradually pulling the galaxy down towards it. This track is a commentary on how people in power do not often seem to show concern for the common people and end up pulling others down with them. 

Right after this, the album ends on a more somber note with “Eventually, Darling,” communicating a message of the stresses that come with an ever-changing life. 

A musical masterpiece, “Zeros” is chock-full of beautiful lyricism that nearly everybody can relate to. However, the memorable beats and instrumentals are enough to warrant a listen.

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