‘What Happened to the Beach?’ provides perfect summer listen

Declan McKenna recently released his first album after four years, taking his listeners on a journey of personal change.
Declan McKenna recently released his first album after four years, taking his listeners on a journey of personal change.
Chloe Choi

Declan McKenna released his third album, “What Happened to the Beach?” on Feb. 9. McKenna is a small, indie artist who became popular in 2017 after releasing “Brazil,” an upbeat pop song critiquing the corruption in the FIFA World Cup. The track was released as part of his debut album, “What Do You Think About The Car?” which evaluates many prominent social issues. The song became a massive hit on TikTok, and arenas sold out nationwide when another album titled “Zeros” was released in 2020. Mckenna’s third album features a much more lighthearted mood accompanied by a pleasant production. “What Happened to the Beach” is a stellar album that offers a gratifying listening experience. 

“There’s a lot of variation in the songs, but they still seem to fit together and make a very happy album,” senior Fiona Carter said.

WOBBLE,” the opening track, is about reminiscing on an old relationship. The lyrics, “What happened to the beach,” are repeated throughout the chorus, referencing the album’s title in a fun way. The track’s alternative style and the imagery of bright beaches make it a perfect introduction to the album. 

Elevator Hum” is a playful song that starts slow but has a sudden tempo change, thrilling the listener. While it also focuses on reminiscence, it maintains a style unique to the track but fitting for the album’s trajectory. Many listeners agree it sets an upbeat tone, adding to the album’s playfulness. 

Story continues below advertisement

“It’s such an upbeat song that makes me feel happier just by listening to it,” senior Arielle Tepelboym said.

The third track, “I Write The News,” is one of the most compelling songs on the album, exploring different perspectives and telling one’s truth. The song sounds like a studio recording with light vocals but then jumps to a strong beat, bringing an intriguing sense of variety. 

Sympathy” is another lively addition that focuses on self-acceptance. McKenna’s light voice, strong beat and cheerful instrumentals make it a perfect summer song.

The fifth track on the album, “Mulholland’s Dinner and Wine,” is a psychedelic pop song that takes the album in a new direction. The change in style elevates the album from upbeat to addicting, making it one of the most enjoyable songs in McKenna’s discography. 

In contrast to its relaxed and more lighthearted lyrics, “Breath of Light” is an eerie-sounding song. McKenna sings, “Would you catch me at the center of a cosmic lie?” pulling at listeners’ emotions and shifting the album to a more dramatic tone. 

Nothing Works” explores how trying always to change yourself to fit expectations only leads to disappointment. The repetition of the lyrics, “I try to fix myself, but nothing works,” is relatable and candidly disheartening. Yet, a chirpy tone highlights the misalignment with keeping up a facade.

The next track, “The Phantom Buzz (Kick In),” is another vibrant song. It mentions “the phantom buzz,” which is a feeling that your phone is vibrating when it isn’t. The song applies to the rest of your life, referring to the sense of inescapable thoughts stuck in your mind. 

Honest Test” creates an entirely different atmosphere from the last track. It is a slower-paced song that is still lighthearted. Although it is a change of pace and provides diversity in the album, it is not comparable to the other tracks due to loose lyrics and dull meaning. However, “Mezzanine” is a treat on the album because its meaning is complex and relatable. 

The second to last track of the album “It’s an Act” is a favorite. It is a dreamy, serene song about putting on a different face in front of others. The meaning and the tone combined make it a peaceful song that is perfect to put near the end.

4 More Years” is the last song on the album. It is the shortest and most mysterious song on the album. The song repeats the lyric “Four more years” throughout and ends with a cutoff line. The lack of closure and abrupt end display the album’s quirkiness and allure.  

This album exceeded my expectations significantly. “What Happened to the Beach” featured various songs showing McKenna’s underrated ability to create music catering to many moods. This album and many of his other projects will be the perfect listen as the weather gets warmer and summer gets closer. 


If you would like to voice your opinion on an issue you feel is relevant to our community, please do so here. Anyone is able and welcome to submit a Letter to the Editor, regardless of journalistic experience or writing skills. Submissions may be published either online or in a print issue.

More to Discover