British Bombs, the evocative and topical single by Declan Mckenna is one of his most well-known songs, further proving that music yields great power in being able to incite change or at least get us thinking.


Without the intention of labelling the artist, Declan Mckenna has been quite politically engaged throughout his career. His first and biggest release was a song discussing the corruption and mismanagement within FIFA (International Federation of Association Football). It was released in 2014, the same year in which the World Cup was held in Brazil. Thus, the name of the single.

Declan has since released two studio albums and a series of singles, exploring the human predicament and himself.

My focus is British Bombs, a single released in 2019. It is a rather chaotic yet very memorable composition, grounded by sharp guitar riffs and as always, Declan’s distinctive lyrical abilities.

Dissidence is not often straightforward, so it was interesting to consider Declan’s approach. The song, which can be dubbed a socio-political commentary, discusses the irresponsibility of the British government in relation to arms trade and war. The chorus of the song being:

‘Great way to fool me again hun

Great acting, it’s great what you tell ‘em

Great Britain won’t stand for felons

Great British bombs in the Yemen’

The lyrics refer to the great contribution of the UK to the current humanitarian crisis in Yemen. Britain is a major supplier of arms to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates both of which are in a coalition that is bombing Yemen.

In an interview with NME news by Elizabeth Aubrey, Declan said about this general issue; “Not only do we still engage in wars far away from our homes, which settle nothing and fuel extremism in the aftermath, we sell weapons to other countries full well knowing where they end up.”

I can see how especially easy it is for us, in the comfort of our mildly unpredictable lives, to completely detach ourselves from the realities of this world and not recognise the tragedy around us. However, as Declan is hoping to encourage, we need to start looking past the space between us and help each other.

‘Whitewash’ being a key word in this discussion, Declan explores the hypocrisy and utter disregard of the British government in contributing to humanitarian crises in countries like Yemen.

His intent was to write a song that was blatantly anti-war and against violence. Insisting that the predicaments of this world are surely not too complex to end in massively impactful wars so often. In today’s ‘civilised’ society, I am positive that countries and world leaders can come to less destructive and devastating conclusions to the difficulties they face. I do not believe that this is easy, but the trade of human life when dealing in war, is far more catastrophic. As Declan denounces in the song, ‘If it’s not a f*****g outrage, then what’s it all about babe?’.

What is it all about?

Declan’s approach to the subject is particularly intriguing in that the tune is quite nuanced sonically. The song does not feel serious and consequential. Instead, the grave subject matter is presented as a classic British punk song with a twist. The intensity and ‘shouty’ characteristics of the song, simply amplify the importance of the issue and suggest the utter hypocrisy.

When I listened to the song, I saw the millions of people who were hurt by impetuous actions, I saw the greed and materialism of people in power, I felt frustrated that we were not doing more, and I wanted to do more.

In essence, music is so incredibly impactful, and I hope to see more people continue to use it genuinely. As Jimi Hendrix once said; Music doesn't lie. If there is something to be changed in this world, then it can only happen through music.’