It had been four years since we’ve last heard from Canadian indie rock icon Mac Demarco. He is mostly known for producing hit albums such as, “2”, “Salad Days,” and “This Old Dog”. His most recent album, “Here Comes The Cowboy” debuted at number 10 on the US Billboard 200. It received mixed reviews due to its mellow sound and lack of focus. For a while, it was unclear what Demarco’s next move was going to be, but on January 20th, we were blessed with a fresh new album for everyone to soak up and enjoy. However, if you were looking forward to hearing the warm and comforting vocals that come with every Mac Demarco record, I’m sorry to say that his fifth studio album is entirely instrumental. This was a bittersweet record for me to listen to, as the show I was eagerly anticipating was unfortunately cancelled for Demarco to put all of his focus on completing his new music.
The album was recorded during a road trip across the Pacific Northwest, into Canada, back into the United States and ending in Rockaway, New York. Each track on the album is named after the towns that Demarco visited and recorded in. The music itself is solemn and relaxing, nothing too energetic like his past tracks such as “Freaking Out the Neighborhood” or “The Stars Keep On Calling My Name”. Demarco takes a different direction with this album, but it works very well. Almost all the tracks are comprised of short, simple riffs and groovy bass lines that repeat throughout the duration of the song without much progression. Additionally, something Demarco has done here for the first time is create sequels to his songs. Five of the fourteen songs have one to two sequels that are each an altered version of the previous. For example, the song “Vancouver 2” contains a soothing guitar riff at medium speed. The next track, “Vancouver 3”, contains a riff that uses the same notes but in a different arrangement and at a faster tempo.
I really enjoyed listening to this album. I woke up the morning of January 20th and invested myself in the music on my way home from San Marcos to San Antonio. A gloomy morning and what would have otherwise been a boring drive was turned into an alleviating half hour of good vibes and cozy-sounding music. Despite being recorded and mixed on the road, the sound quality sounds amazing. For the entire duration of the album, I was able to focus on every instrument and follow its path through the song. Because of its minimalist composition, each instrument has its own job, and nothing gets overshadowed or drowned out by anything else.
Overall, this was one of my favorite albums to listen to front to back. Although there were no clever metaphors or catchy choruses, I feel like the music itself is its own voice that speaks to the listener and reminds them that sometimes less is more. The album never tries to be anything than what it is at face value. I’m very excited to see what direction Mac Demarco will take with his next record. Whether it’s a catchy, fast-paced, electric guitar solo-filled collection of tracks, or a compilation of mellow licks, it seems everything Demarco touches turns to gold.
Written by: Jordan Young