Single Review: 'The Key To Life On Earth' - Declan McKenna

Amelia Thorpe reviews the latest single from Declan Mckenna's next album Zeros

Amelia Neri
5th May 2020

Declan McKenna has shared his new single 'The Key To Life On Earth', teasing forthcoming second album Zeros, which is set to be released on 21 August.

After the success of McKenna’s single 'Beautiful Faces' back in January, the up-and-coming English artist has given his fans a second glimpse into his highly anticipated new album, Zeros, with the release of 'The Key To Life On Earth'. The electric new single was shared to all major music streaming platforms on 14 April, accompanied by a thought-provoking visual directed by Will Hooper (who has previously collaborated with Slaves and APRE), and stars The End Of The F***ing World's Alex Lawther as McKenna’s doppelgänger.

McKenna explains that 'The Key To Life On Earth’ reflects on mundanity and hostility” as highlighted in the lyrical content, which deals with duality, humanity, and one’s place in the dynamic scape of human experience.
This is mirrored by visuals that show McKenna and his doppelgänger repeating same resented mundane activities, such as brushing their teeth together and sharing a baguette, which quickly result in conflict.
The concept of an inescapable doppelgänger could represent McKenna’s own feelings of imprisonment within a stagnant daily routine, which, due to the current U.K. lockdown, are more fitting and relatable than ever.

McKenna further explains that the video, filmed in the desolate suburban sprawl that was East London before lockdown, focuses on “two people, who are very similar, in conflict with each other”. This is brought to life by Lawther’s role as McKenna’s doppelgänger, which has been long awaited by fans after years of being compared to one another. Lawther himself even admitted in an interview with NME that sometimes strangers “think I’m Declan McKenna.” And for that reason, there was no one more perfectly suited for the role of McKenna’s doppelgänger.

With every release, McKenna seems to sweep new ground so flawlessly that listeners may forget that this is an effort by a twenty-one-year-old on his second album.

'The Key To Life On Earth' is a modern day musical masterpiece and it is evident that McKenna has put his heart and soul into perfecting it. McKenna’s use of juxtaposition between darker and brighter tones, along with the use of distortion in his guitar riffs, creates discordance and cleverly mirrors the unsettling visuals. This gives both the single and the accompanying music video an unavoidable eerie and melancholy aura, giving us a glimpse into the key themes explored in Zeros.

From what we have already heard from Zeros, it definitely appears to explore more obscure concepts than McKenna’s acclaimed debut album What Do You Think About The Car, which since its release in 2017, has been streamed over 230 million times on Spotify alone.  

I anticipate seeing what more the innovative young star has to offer the indie music scene over the next few months, after letting his mind wander to create a compelling new album which should stand out among the best of 2020.

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