Though it seems that the market for the 20ish middle-class whiteboy aesthetic with fast-food initial syllables has already been cornered (say hello again to your Macklemores and Mac Millers), a new challenger has entered the field. Or, rather, streaked upon it naked with acrylics painted on his buttocks.
Enter stage trapdoor: Mac DeMarco. While many new artists, when asked what do they see for themselves in their future, may answer something along the lines of a stable successful career and worldwide rec, DeMarco instead pictures swimming pools filled with blondes and milk (the latter preferably with a high fat content). His (in)famous live act may have involved insertion of drumsticks up oneself. And here he is now, bringing us new adventures in lo-fi and languor with his latest release, Salad Days.
This, his second full-length with Brooklynite record label Captured Tracks, may be the breakout into the not-quite-there-but-close-to-mainstream measure of success. DeMarco, who is not quite sure himself of where in Canada he should say he’s from (Edmonton? Vancouver? Montreal?), has for the moment made New York his base of operations. And what better city to draw upon when you’re practicing your grand entrance?
And indeed, no time is wasted in the opening track, “Salad Days”. No instrumental buildup, not even a 1,2,3,4–it is almost in media res as DeMarco waxes nostalgic, as though you just happened by in the middle of a performance. Fitting, then, for a track where the subject matter of a possible early-life crisis is pondered. Speaking through the voice of someone intent on telling what’s best, DeMarco softly chastizes, “Oh dear, act your age and try another year” with just the right hints of derision and joy.
Other tracks like the upbeat “Let Her Go” and the brassy “Passing Out Pieces” continue to showcase DeMarco’s understated-yet-defined voice, as it swings from cheery apathy to muted optimism as adeptly as Damon Albarn does it, with snatches of Donovan and Marc Bolan. “Let Her Go”, in particular, is a rather forward-minded plea for a breakup; one of the many tone-vs-subject paradoxes that Salad Days encompasses and something that DeMarco wields with assured ease.
DeMarco’s goal in songwriting is simple. Make it catchy, but interesting. Sometimes, it may happen to be a little off-kilter, a little weird. All a natural process for DeMarco, who may be mislabeled with hipster affectations when he just wants his audience to loosen up and have a good time. As he ends the album closer “Jonny’s Odyssey” with a thank you to his listener, one could play the cynic and dismiss the message, and him, as the novelty goof-off of a stonehead slacker. But, listening through Salad Days gives an impression, rather, that DeMarco is humbly sincere in what he does. So let’s just enjoy ourselves, ‘kay?
Check out Mac DeMarco!
Author: Nathan Christie