Declan Welsh and The Decadent West Shares Sophomore Album, ‘2’ - Stream It Below | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Monday, April 22nd, 2024  

Declan Welsh and The Decadent West Shares Sophomore Album, ‘2’ - Stream It Below

Read the Band’s Track-by-Track Guide for the LP Here

Oct 27, 2023 Photography by Graham Noble
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For the past few years, Scottish alt rock quartet Declan Welsh and The Decadent West have been building an explosive catalog of music, beginning first in the punk field but quickly incorporating an array of stylistic influences. The band debuted in 2019 with their album Cheaply Bought, Expensively Sold and quickly followed with a series of EPs, 20202’s We Wish You All the Best, 2021’s It’s Been a Year, and last year’s Impermanence. Today, the band are back with their sophomore album, simply entitled 2, out everywhere now.

2 was written and demoed in lead singer and songwriter Declan Welsh’s room during the height of COVID lockdowns, leaving Welsh’s songwriting feeling more introspective and the band’s influences more expansive. The record opens on a trademark barrelling high note with “Mercy.” Yet, the tracklist quickly goes in new directions with tracks like “King of My Head,” pairing dense lyrical reflections with hypnotic basslines and spacious synth passages. Later, the band dives into spacious trip hop with “Ok Now” and brings some light and lithe funk grooves into the mix with “Doing Great.” Finally, they finish on the sprawling and anthemic high of the closing track, “The Comedian.”

Welsh explained: “I guess the album is a product of its environment, written over a period of time in which the outside world seemed as far away as it ever has done. It’s an introspective album in some parts, and in others it’s an album about watching people from a distance. Musically there’s a lot more space than anything we’ve done before, a lot of that has to do with it being created in a bedroom first off. That’s the synthetic part, but we then recorded most of everything live over it, with real instruments. So there’s this dual personality I think, where the synthetic and the analogue are kinda fighting it out. The result of that is this kinda detached attitude that gives way to huge moments of emotion. Lyrically, this is reflected back, with the album discussing issues concerning rumination, isolation, and anxiety before moments of humour, hope and love break through to lift the songs and provide light to the shade.

Check out the full LP below, out now via Frictionless Music, and read Welsh’s exclusive track-by-track guide here.

Mercy - This started off from that bass synth line looping over and over. I just found that sound on Ableton and immediately thought, oh aye, this is something. Then working from that I think I added in drums, some chords and finally that big riff. I remember tracking the vocals to the “I got so high” bit before we had any idea what the tune was about so I guess the lyrics flowed from that. We took it to the studio and band-ified it after I had demo’d it and added in the bridge where it goes to C and D. Already a great addition to our live set, we started with it at our barras headline in Glasgow and it was amazing.

King of My Head - another song that was born from the bass synth line, I loved this so much. There’s a Peep Show bit where Super Hans says he’s written a bass line so good that he physically couldn’t turn it off. That’s what I felt like for a bit at the start of this. The guitar line came after and I think the lyrics “I’m the king of my head” just fell from the sky. In the studio with Luca it developed this bagginess that is quite happy Mondays/stone roses. So happy with this tune and it’s maybe our favourite to play live as it gets really heavy at the end now.

Come Outside - that sample at the start used to run through the whole song, and I really liked how it sounds like these two unanswered questions going round and round. The subject matter of the song is not a million miles from “Black Dog” by Arlo Parks or “Fix You” by Coldplay but more inward-looking. It’s someone talking to themselves trying to get them out of the depression they are in. The end of it is lyrically one of the things I’m most proud of. It’s the moment where, through sheer defiance, you stand up and say I am bigger than this. I am not gonna let this defeat me. “We’re just dreaming, passing through, and meaning is our to do with as we see fit. It’s a match that’s been lit and as we sit, let it bit by bit illicit the words from your lips. Control is a trick. Don’t feel proud, feel lucky. You did nothing mate - fuck ye. I am a rock and you can’t cut me because I am the stone that the river moves round and water doesn’t fucking touch me.”

OK Now - a song about juxtaposition. The coldness of the verse and the emotion of the chorus. The drums are amazing in this. The guitar lines were improvised in this ti a great extent. I remember sitting with this old Fender in the studio in LA and all these vintage pedals and just messing about until I found the part. Was so much fun. The subject matter is the media and global conflict. The idea that we are all desensitised to what’s happening. “If [the bombs are] far enough away they’re make believe”. We’re seeing it now. Flinging your hands up and going “what can be done?”. Aside from being a dereliction of duty to your fellow humans, that’s the EXACT attitude that the people in charge want you to have. You see it in Putin and Netenyahu’s disinformation campaigns recently. Batter you from all angles with too much information to process in order to leave you confused and static. Push through it. It’s never wrong to shout “stop bombing civillians”.

I Don’t Know Why - very possibly the song that’s changed the least from where it started. That synth riff and the guitar part both came pretty quick, as did the chorus line “I don’t know why”. The challenge then was to build a story within the tune. So I tried to come up with a setting where the only response could be “I don’t know why”. It’s a bit more cryptic and open-ended this tune in terms of the lyrics. What you take from it is up to you. But it’s at the core about hope in a hopeless situation. Clinging to what matters when you fear you may lose it. I love the hook in this tune. It’s been one of the fan’s favourites so far and I’m excited to tour it properly.

First To Know - I seen this described as a breakup tune by one reviewer and while I’m all for individual interpretation of art that could not be further from the truth. Well, it’s definitely not about a romantic relationship. It’s maybe about breaking up from life, but that’s a bit of a strained metaphor isn’t it? I feel like an analysis of the lyrics would make it pretty clear this is a song about feeling as low as it gets and the only thing keeping you from ending it being the responsibility you feel towards the people you love. It’s dark. That’s why we’ve dressed it up in this slacker, LA shiney-ness. It’s a performance aesthetically, meant to make the words you hear 2nd or 3rd time listening really hit you. The bass on this is frightening. Ben does a ridiculous job. A band favourite from the moment it was written up until now.

Doing Great - maybe the most different album track from the original demo. Originally it’s this bizarre electronic track, the vocals and main guitar lines all being there but the bass all synthetic and the drums the same. It then morphed into this Nile Rodgers, Prince-inspired danceable funky pop track and Luca has to take a good bit of credit for guiding it that way. Another amazing bass line (but I’m taking credit for this one in the writing, Ben still plays it amazingly though) and it’s lyrically one of my favourites. Another one where we use dramatic irony/unreliable narrator thing. Every word I say in the chorus is so obviously untrue. If anyone was worried though I am actually doing pretty good now. Great? That’s a bit much, isn’t it.

100-1 (Saturday Night) - Weird wee tune that I love a lot. Once again, like everything on this album, we are playing about with sincerity. The verse lyrics are truly grim. It’s a story about poverty violence and addiction. And the cyclical nature of each. But the chorus is that feeling when you are up. When the drugs still work. When the night out is still in the ascendancy. But every time that chorus hits it gets progressively more jarring. It’s all a deliberate attempt to leave you in this weird space. We’ve played it live and already folk song along to the chorus and it kinda takes on a new meaning every time. Biggest inspiration for this is The Streets and “Hollaback Girl” by Gwen Stefani. A bit of Cod Liver Oil and The Orange Juice (Hamish Imlach) chucked in there an all. It’s a folk song with an EDM chorus written by an indie band influenced by naughties pop. I’m very proud of it.

Hardly News - it’s a love song about the person I love more than life itself and who I hope to be with for the rest of my life. But it’s hard to find a way to communicate the intensity of that love when everyone is like “oh my god shut up we know you’ve been going out 5 years” you know? But I think we managed to do it. I’m yours and that is hardly news, it’s a chorus I still really love. The harmonies on this as well are something I’m very happy with. A tight classic soft rock tune, indebted to Fleetwood Mac and those kinda 70s into 80s bands that were all about harmony and melody. Maybe my favourite from the moment I wrote that hook.

The Comedian - the last track to be added to the album, originally called “Reckon.” I had the acoustic guitar chords and the main vocal melody down pretty quick and the bare bones of a song went over to Luca but this absolutely came to life in the studio and after. First I had to figure out what the lyrics were about and I was really struggling, but then we went to see a stand-up show in LA and I’ve never seen a comedian bomb harder than I’ve ever seen before. And he was bad, right, and we watched this guy kinda realise in real-time he’d spent a large large portion of his life pursuing a dream that probably wasn’t ever going to work out.

And the stuff he said was super offensive. He wasn’t good. But my heart broke for him out of this place of understanding. There but for the grace of god goes any artist. We never really know if we’re good enough. It’s a constant battle. And every story of someone persisting despite all the obstacles - until it works out that’s just delusion. And if it doesn’t you’re left there alone and devastated. Without direction. But the end of the song is a bit of a response to that. “We’ve tried and we’ve failed. And we will fail again for the rest of our days. But if that’s our place that’s fine with me. We plant the seeds we know we’ll never see.” That guy’s horrific stand-up set inspired an album closer. Who knows what the album closer will inspire eh? I hope something.


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