Release Date: May 10, 2019
Record label: N/A
Mac's back, baby, Mac's back. The slacker hero slows things down on his fourth full-length album, finding catharsis in gentle instrumentation and thoughtful lyrics If you were to believe certain corners of the internet, then Mac DeMarco deserves to be cancelled. By inadvertently giving his fourth studio album, 'Here Comes The Cowboy', a similar title to Mitski's brilliant 2018 effort 'Be The Cowboy', Mac was accused by hundreds of Twitter users of trolling.
As ever, the Mac's messy demeanour deceives on his latest studio LP. While the title track's bow-legged lollop finds the Canada-to-California transplant acting the goof after the rheumy-eyed confessionals of 2017's This Old Dog, Here Comes The Cowboy (a term of endearment) brims with lush, languid self-reflections, laid down with smoothly sparing clarity in his spruced-up garage studio and steeped in yearnings for release from the top-speed rat-race. Nobody's muted soul melancholia and Finally Alone's Hall & Oates-like yacht-rock sigh harbour sweet-toned reveries on fame's trap. If Choo Choo is a slanted funk throwaway (Harry Nilsson on one), K affirms DeMarco's way with silly love songs in pure style.
In 2015, Mac DeMarco was living in Far Rockaway in the shadow of JFK airport. He hadn't yet properly crossed over to the mainstream, but in the indie world in which he operated, he'd become something of a slacker icon. He was hanging out with Tyler, the Creator, playing shows to legions of young folks who saw something in him that they could relate to.
The Lowdown: Over the past six years, Mac DeMarco has encountered a meteoric rise to fame that few expected, especially considering his niche brand of outsider-influenced jangle pop, the lo-fi quality of previous recordings, and his frequent use of atonal instrumentation. Despite his sound's affront to conventional pop wisdom, mainstream audiences have been surprisingly receptive to these sensibilities, and as such, the Canadian singer-songwriter has become a torchbearer in the indie music circuit of late. Following three full-length albums that have received both critical and commercial success, DeMarco makes a welcome return with his fourth LP, Here Comes the Cowboy.
Having endured his surprisingly quick ascendance to indie stardom, Mac DeMarco took the breakout success of 2014's Salad Days in stride and merely carried on with business, refining his trademark blend of wobbly, chilled-out soft rock with increasing quality on outings like 2015's lovelorn Another One and 2017's more introspective This Old Dog. The pranky slacker image that translated as DeMarco's public persona was certainly earned, but also served as a lazy subterfuge for a rather hardworking artist who records, produces, and plays all the instruments on what has turned out to be quite a lot of material. Padding his three proper albums are various demo collections, mini-albums, instrumental sets, and EPs documenting his process and progress.
When Mac DeMarco first broke through back in 2012 with debut album proper '2', it was the cheeky-chappy twinkle in his eye that set his simple, heart-on-sleeve warm balladry apart. Over the years, Mac has understandably grown up a bit - from getting naked and boozy on stage, he now spends most interviews trying to distance himself from that former rep. But, while we're not expecting the Canadian to be Peter Pan forever, there's something of that early charm that's also been lost along the way.
Since his breakout debut, DeMarco has candidly demonstrated his ability to follow up on his success, producing the critically-lauded Salad Days in 2014, a record which propelled him into the spotlight and towards the creation of his equally well-received third full-length release in 2017 with This Old Dog. Mac's appeal has always lain in his apparent ambivalence towards the musical process, wielding an effortless expertise that was at one point difficult not to find enviable and impressive. However, with his latest effort, Here Comes The Cowboy, DeMarco has come-full circle; it is an album on which he doubles down on his slacker mentality, perhaps due either to the newfound freedom he has found through this first full-length release on his own record label or simply because the well is running dry on material to draw from when pushing a persona defined by its ostensible sincerity.
Mac DeMarco sure has done well for himself over the past few years. Since linking up with Tyler The Creator, it's easy to say that the singer has gained a cult following. The singer is easily loveable, the laidback guy who brings a calming presence. Here Comes The Cowboy is the debut release on Mac's new record label, called Mac's Record Label.
Here Comes the Cowboy arrives at a time when country music and its associated conventions are in flux. With “Old Town Road” being the juggernaut that it is, with several artists taking it upon themselves to fester a prideful reenactment of cowboy culture, Mac DeMarco’s charitable interpretation of the Western frontier’s heroes seems ill-advised. But it makes sense in a character arc that Mac would morph from lovable goofball making “jizz-jazz” to forlorn cowboy, world-weary by the endless touring and celebrity interactions that come with being a charismatic musician.
Since his debut, Mac DeMarco has managed to muster a plethora of acclaim from critics and listeners through his goofy personality, niche sound and feral live shows. On 'Here Comes The Cowboy' he's put his foot on the breaks -- albeit for 46 minutes -- and delivered a diluted yet consistent record. Although at times it might seems less hopeful and buoyant than its predecessors, his undeniable charm acts as a magnetic force that's hard to fight against.
Y es, it's tough being a white, trad-rock guitar guy today. People are saying you've dominated the cultural conversation for way too long and are loudly pushing back against you. The biggest rock stars are all rappers; female trap-poppers rule radio. Where do you go? How do you fit in? Canadian upbeat balladeer Mac DeMarco has responded by - sigh - roving the wide-open plains of the well-mapped metaphorical American heartlandzzzzz, clutching what sounds suspiciously like a vial of authenticity, several buckets of perspiration and a saddlebag of James Taylor CDs.
M ac DeMarco's lackadaisical balladry has long boasted a lyrical economy that feels almost Beatlesesque - simple, relatable observations that echo through a song until they acquire a subtle profundity. Yet on the titular opener to his fourth album, the Canadian singer-songwriter takes his linguistic minimalism one step further. "Here comes the cowboy," drawls DeMarco over and over again, above a backdrop of dour Americana - his gravelly, near-the-mic delivery initially injecting the line with a threatening edge, before the incessant repetition (there are no other lyrics) causes the song to crumble into inanity.
Rating: NNN Since releasing his debut album in 2012, Mac DeMarco has evolved from cult hero to mainstream indie poster boy - all while maintaining a prolific output, releasing five albums in seven years. Although he hasn't exactly reinvented himself between records, there's always been a clear sense of growth and experimentation, whether it's trading in slacker indie rock anthems for soft rock ballads or sincere love songs. Here Comes The Cowboy is the first album in his discography that lacks any explicit evolution.