Release Date: Aug 7, 2015
Record label: Captured Tracks
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock, Indie Rock, Lo-Fi, Dream Pop
The Mac Demarcult seems to just grow and grow each year—and for good reason. He really hasn’t released a bad record, and the new mini-LP, Another One, is another solid entry into an esteemed and well-loved catalog. Central to his success is the contrast between his personality and the music he creates. He’s a self-aware jokester in interviews and a sincere songbird whenever he’s playing a guitar.
Mac DeMarco stealthily became an alt favourite last year around the release of his album Salad Days. The charm lay partly in a total embrace of slackerdom; from the battered cap to his vocal drawl, to the odd tuning on his guitar. It lay also in his buck-tooth smile and his ability to leaven melancholy love songs with sweet, slow melodies. This follow-up arrives quickly, and is small in its ambition, but still feels well-formed.
At the end of Mac DeMarco's latest studio album, the aptly titled mini-effort Another One, the gap-toothed, Canadian rock'n'roll ex-pat lists out his new address in Arverne, Queens (6802 Bayfield Avenue, for all you stalkers out there) and invites the listener to come over and have a cup of coffee with him sometime. It's a fitting close to DeMarco's most intimate album to date. Compared to last year's dazzling collection of lo-fi pop songs — Salad Days, which was recorded in his shithole apartment in Brooklyn's Bed-Stuy neighbourhood — Another One feels like, at least thematically speaking, the first album of his that is entirely a product of its surroundings.
In a not-so-secret message at the end of his 2015 mini-album Another One, Mac DeMarco offers up his home address in Far Rockaway, New York, inviting listeners to "Stop on by, I'll make you a cup of coffee. " Four albums into his relatively young career, the transplanted Canadian has already earned a playfully eccentric reputation that mirrors his unconventional musical style. As admired for his oddball antics (homemade videos wearing Michael Jackson and Homer Simpson masks, holding a contest for fans whose prize is $0.
The independent music world can at times seem like a snobbish, closed-off community, dangerously close to drowning in its own pretension. It is increasingly important, then, that it have a few jesters to stir up the status quo. Over his last three full-length releases Mac DeMarco has comfortably made the job of music class clown his own. Whether it's inserting a drumstick into his rectum onstage or performing an encore consisting of the entire band repeatedly playing the Top Gun theme naked, the Canadian troublemaker is the embodiment of the classic don't-give-a-shit attitude that has formed the basis for great rock and roll for decades.
There’s been some fantastic music released in mini album format recently – Robyn and Röyksopp’s ‘Do It Again’, Snoop Dogg and Dâm-Funk’s ‘7 Days Of Funk’, Parkay Quarts’ ‘Tally All the Things That You Broke’, Best Coast’s ‘Fade Away’, and you can now add Mac Demarco’s ‘Another One’ to the list. He calls it “a concept album about love”, but it’s not pompous and there’s no narrative arc – it’s just eight more DeMarco songs all concerning love; even, you sense, ‘My House By The Water’, an instrumental closer made up of only a keyboard line and the sound of the Atlantic ocean lapping the shore outside his apartment in Far Rockaway, New York. (Oddly, he ends the song by giving out his address and inviting anyone to “stop on by” for a “cup of coffee”.
In a perhaps unintentional nod to Brian Wilson’s “lyric sheet as directions home” approach to The Beach Boys’ 1968 album cut Busy Doin’ Nothin’, Mac DeMarco’s latest release ends with the scruffbag heartthrob troubadour giving out his address and offering listeners the chance to “stop on by, I’ll make you a cup of coffee”. It’s a flippant touch yet totally indicative of the lovable charm that informs Another One. Despite being classed as a mini-album running to eight tracks, this is DeMarco’s most fulfilling and cohesive release to date.
I’m reluctant to admit it, but the cynic in me expected fame and critical acclaim to corrode Mac DeMarco’s amiable exterior somewhat. Surely there must be some posturing involved in maintaining such a consistently jovial and mischievous manner? On more than one occasion DeMarco has been painted as duplicitous; as if Mac the man—the scruffy rogue with the charming grin—cannot be reconciled with Mac the Musician. At this point, his character has received about as much attention from the press as his records have, (buzzwords like “prankster” and “slacker” abound), but is DeMarco’s offstage comportment truly at odds with the music he writes and performs? In a recent interview, he confessed: “I’m a terrible actor, but I’m good at playing me”.
To get to Rockaway Beach you take the A train toward Far Rockaway, waiting as it winds through Brooklyn, past clumps of trees dotting picturesque residential neighborhoods, over narrow bridges surrounded by the sea, through an imaginary portal away from the hustle and bustle of New York City to a more serene existence. That's where Mac DeMarco lives on the water, when he's not busy gallivanting in the Brooklyn scene or touring across the world. At the end of his new mini-LP, Another One, he tells us his address, and invites us to come over for a cup of coffee, so that in the process of taking that long train ride, toward boardwalks dusted with white sand and the ocean stretched for miles and miles, we might come closer to understanding his slacker-poet point of view.
At the end of Mac DeMarco’s new mini-album, Another One, he shares his home address and invites listeners to stop by for a cup of coffee. Apparently, the address is real; fans have already started posting photographic evidence with DeMarco at his house in Queens. This bit at the end of the instrumental closer, “My House by the Water”, is one of the few instances in the Canadian-bred songwriter’s discography where his eccentric personality and surprisingly serious music intersect.
Rumours of Mac DeMarco having toned down the juvenility of his live shows aren’t entirely wide of the mark, but they’ve certainly been exaggerated. Granted, he now has enough of his own songs that he doesn’t need to rely too heavily on daft covers of daft rock tracks, but whilst he might no longer be stripping naked, sticking drumsticks where the proverbial sun doesn’t shine and delivering versions of U2’s ‘Beautiful Day’ that are markedly unfaithful to the original, his penchant for frat-boy silliness continues apace - when I last caught him, at a festival back in June, he prefaced every other song by regaling us with thumpingly unsophisticated remarks about fucking his drummer’s mother. I hate to have to do my schoolteacher 'I’m not angry, I’m just disappointed' bit here, but it’s DeMarco himself who provides me ample room in which to do so; he’s that kid in class who treats just about everything like a massive joke, and yet walks out of the room with straight As by the year’s end.
Last summer, I was lucky enough to catch Mac DeMarco live at the Hideout Block Party/A.V. Fest in Chicago. His set was a prime example of the Hideout Block Party’s wide appeal; according to the family-friendly fest’s organizer Katie Tuten, a 16-year-old had recommended DeMarco be included and then it was so. This demographic’s loyalty was apparent during his set, as I shared space up front with what seemed to be a throng of rising high school seniors.
Indie rock’s favorite merry prankster — the Bizkit-covering, self-violating, gap-toothed, boy-king Mac DeMarco — has another collection of chewy guitar-pop treats to share. And for his next trick: normalcy. The Canadian-born and New York-based songwriter has always played harder with sincerity on record than his public persona would suggest; he’s growing up, getting older, slowing down.
Upon the release of his 2012 debut, the woozy, flange-happy Rock and Roll Night Club, Canadian indie cult figure Mac DeMarco was known more for shoving drumsticks up his butthole than his classically informed, swamp-glam songwriting. But even as his wacky antics persisted, from bizarre television appearances to pop-up fan barbecues, albums like 2013's 2 and 2014's Salad Days revealed DeMarco to be a true songwriter's songwriter and a major sweetie-pie. Those two albums were filled with odes to his beloved girlfriend, Kiera, tender apologies to his mother for “freaking out the neighborhood,” and introspective pieces on the rigors of a musician's public life.
A boy hero to indie-rock fans who prize delicately demented pop, Mac DeMarco has the casual grace of early Beck, bringing a shambolic scuzz to the creamy sounds of Seventies soft rock. His melodies and slide guitar stumble and dance their way through songs that often feel like reverse Polaroids: A fully developed image fades into haze as you watch. Over the course of four releases since 2012 — not one of them more than 35 minutes long — the Canadian singer-songwriter has continually upped the ante without exactly playing high stakes, and this eight-track mini-LP is his craftiest set of tunes yet.
Another One finds “Mac” mostly wearing the one mask — more role than substance1 — of lovelorn melancholia, blurrily animating the most egregious clichés with a certain warped and oddly believable charm. There’s scarcely a trace of other previously assumed “Mac” personas, like the pitched-down sleaze of Rock and Roll Nightclub, or Salad Days’s nostalgia and platitudinous but plausible advice about not worrying, etc. The slightly doleful love songs are now all about girls instead of cigarettes, weird bits of quasi-sincerity and worry washed up on the shore and/or left out too long in the sun.
Any fans worried that the acclaim for his 2014 album Salad Days might have changed Canadian songwriter Mac DeMarco can rest easy. He continues to craft wry pop songs about the vicissitudes of love and his slackerish geniality pervades Another One, from its hype-diffusing title to the offer of a cup of coffee that he extends to listeners on the final track. Though nothing on this record gives the impression of being overthought, there’s a familiar strangeness to his songwriting too.
On last year’s ‘Salad Days’ album, Mac DeMarco felt like he had a lot to prove. For starters, he wanted to shake off the slacker image. Someone touring solidly for two years while still making records doesn’t warrant that tag, even if he still finds time to make spoof videos for a living. Secondly, he wanted to at least give the impression that he wasn’t some full-time goof, a funny guy who had the capacity to tell jokes on demand.
Building on last year’s full-length album Salad Days, the laidback Mac DeMarco serves some more of his horizontal rock (or ‘jizz jazz’ as he calls it) stirred with the spirits of Steely Dan, Harry Nilsson and Jonathan Richman in his particular brand of slacker rock. Straight away from The Way You’d Love Her’s wonky speed guitar and stoner reverb slouching vocals you know this is going to be a breezy, upbeat slice of easy. Trouble ye not with any uptight and upright political rants with progressive chords or navel-gazing bleakness.
Very few things confuse me as sincerely as Mac DeMarco’s work/life balance. It just doesn’t equate. Musically, the dude’s on an unimpeded fast track. His evolution as an artist is outrageous, which is impressive given how swollen the vintage-indie-folk-songwriter scene has become over the past decade.
There are a lot of people who have worn thin on Mac DeMarco’s schtick. He’s perpetually sardonic with a cigarette dangling from his grin; the reigning court jester of indie rock, his live shows are infamously vulgar. For his new release Another One, he hosted a barbecue listening party for fans —which he announced via an Instagram shot of him placing the EP on a grill with hash tags like #penis and #peaceonearth.
In the musical world of Mac DeMarco, nothing is ever quite as it seems. His music exists in a sort of hyper-relaxed, escapist milieu, but lyrically he’s weighed down by an emotional anchor. This juxtaposition has served the idiosyncratic DeMarco well on past efforts, never more so than on 2014’s excellent Salad Days. Listening to that record, it was hard not to pull for him as he tried to untangle himself from heartache.
These slightly dazed love letters from a confused heart make up an introspective intermission for Mac DeMarco, the idiosyncratic, lionized indie-rock singer-songwriter. This mini-LP, with its rough, demo-quality guitar and synth-based songs, translates as his bedroom tapes, documenting bruised epiphanies and woozy emotions from contemplating the small mysteries of love and desire. Some of the 25-year-old artist’s songs here seem unrealized, his slim insights into relationships not as revealing as his often eloquent guitar work.