Maryland won’t see hot temperatures for a few more months, but alt-indie singer Declan McKenna’s new album What Happened to the Beach? could convince listeners otherwise. 

Released last week, this is McKenna’s third album since his debut in 2017. McKenna rose to fame with his song “Brazil,” where he disguised his critique of FIFA in a beachy anthem. The song regained traction in 2022 on, of course, TikTok.

This album takes listeners on a trip in more ways than one. What Happened to the Beach? combines a perfect California beach day with psychedelic flair. 

The album features 12 tracks, four of which — “Sympathy,” “Nothing Works,” “Elevator Hum” and “Mulholland’s Dinner and Wine” — were released as singles between July 2023 and January 2024.  

Kicking off the album, “WOBBLE,” starts out slow and brings in an almost distorted fantasy — like hearing a voice before the beat rolls in. 

The listener is pulled between a dream and a nightmare. Despite a melancholy tone, his lyrics are just hopeful enough to give the readers some buoyancy before they sink into the deep ocean.  

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It’s an interesting start to the album due to its aura of sadness and confusion, but this feeling fades with the following song, “Elevator Hum.”

The cheery song starts with a spine-tingling sound reminiscent of dewdrops before it picks up into a stronger repetitive beat that makes your head bob along.

Another standout track,“Mulholland’s Dinner and Wine” has a mellow, but still pop-esque tune. It’s the perfect song to listen to while you’re in that trance-like moment between slumber and awake — bonus points if you’re on the beach.

The most intriguing yet oddest song on the album is “4 More Years.” Only a total of 48 seconds long, the lyrics only include two phrases — a repetition of “four more years” and “it could be a cool end to,” before cutting off. Not only are the lyrics eerie, but the tone and the fact that it’s the last song on the album gives listeners a sinister feel.


 The song brings back that fantasy-like voice from earlier on in the album with an added ghosty feel. It’s not entirely clear what it means. Four more years until the next album? Four more years till 2028? It’s very obscure.

In What Happened to the Beach?, McKenna also touches on personal struggles such as doubt and sadness. His lyrics poke fun at these emotions, but are seeped with awareness about how they impact him. Self-deprecating lines interspersed throughout the album contrast funny quips and jokes. 

While the new album’s songs are sad if you hold up a magnifying glass, the overall feel of the album is fun, relaxing and definitely psychedelic. 

While it’s unclear what McKenna is getting at in the last track on the album, it feels as though listeners are taken from the scary waters 40-degree Maryland weather to bathe in the sun.