Declan McKenna – ‘Nothing Works’ single review: a chaotic yet mesmerising piece of music

Everything Works!

Longtime fans of McKenna will love hearing his progression in this song.

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Declan McKenna has been teasing his ‘Big Return’ for some time now, beginning with the release of ‘Sympathy’ in July – his first new music for two years. To coincide with the announcement of his third album, ‘What Happened to the Beach?’, McKenna released the second single from the album, Nothing Works.

As both the music video and McKenna have suggested, dancing shoes are most certainly required for this one. It’s a self-proclaimed ‘chaos-leaning’ piece of music. Speaking about the song, McKenna said, “I wanted to open up and not worry about things so much.” That’s quite evident here.

It is perhaps the drums that really shine in this one. They cut in and out at just the right times, layering and delayering throughout the song to alter the atmosphere. Stripping them away, or at least dialling them down at moments allows the stylistically distorted vocals to breathe.

McKenna has been coy about revealing the meaning of the song, but has said it’s about ‘making fun of doing things the way that suits other people.’ The title relates to him trying to create new, more experimental music. When people would ask, ‘are you sure you want to do it?’, he would reply, ‘ Yes, nothing else is going to work!’

I was lucky enough to see McKenna perform Nothing Works at Reading Festival 2023, and it was just as groovy then as it is now. Despite it being from the same album, it’s quite different from ‘Sympathy.’ It’s more experimental, but it still has that same trademark Declan McKenna style.

It’s rebellious and fuelled by the experiences of songwriting – making the songwriting even better. Everything comes together perfectly, and the chaotic ending alludes to McKenna’s feeling of resentment towards his superiors. It’s ironic that such experiences have resulted in such brilliant music. Perhaps his superiors will leave him to it now.

It won’t be long before we find out What Happened to the Beach on February 9th, 2024. Until then, nothing works.

‘Nothing Works’ is out now via Columbia Records. You can watch the music video below.


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