Mac DeMarco ::: ‘This Old Dog’

Mac DeMarco was always going to be a difficult artist for me not to like. He ticks all the boxes in terms of my personal tastes. Melodic songs. Check. Self-produced in a bedroom. Check. Kooky personality that has a life of its own apart from the music. Check. Down to earth and happy to chill with his fans rather than being an aloof dickhead. Check. My first taste of THE MAC was the album ‘Salad Days’. I was instantly addicted and began exploring his other albums. It’s always nice when you really like an album by an artist and then check out their other stuff and find another record you like even more and that was the case when I started listening to ‘2’ which I prefer to Salad Days but only just. So what of his latest releases? Well I like the fact DeMarco is reasonably prolific but I can’t say I’ve listened to the EP ‘Another One’ as much as his other releases. However, new LP ‘This Old Dog’ stands a real good chance of repeat listens…

DeMarco has openly stated his love for Neil Young’s output, in particular the album ‘Harvest’. Well, not only do I share his love of that particular record, but I’d also assert his adoration of the Harvest sound sometimes shines through in his work, not least on the title track. Listen to the way in which the kick and snare snap and drift through the arrangement before the pedal steel (real or midi it’s hard to tell these days) woozes in and out. It really conjures up ‘Out On The Weekend’ and the aforementioned album in general one could argue. Before that we have the track ‘My Old Man’ a very honest opener with some delightful electronic meanderings backing it all up. By track 3 there’s something of a break from the melancholy with ‘Baby You’re Out’. OK this is hardly a song suddenly setting off at a breakneck speed but it does retain a quirky groove that might remind you of certain tracks on the album 2. It’s on songs like these that I could really imagine DeMarco straying into Dr John territory at some point. ‘For The First Time’ recalls another familiar side of this artist to those that know him, the cheap keyboard sounds flailing around a rich-sounding bass guitar before we go back into acoustic groove territory with ‘One Another’.

Another endearing quality of Mac DeMarco is he’s not afraid to slow things down in an age where much music that fits into the rock and pop bracket, especially that aimed at a young audience, is often served up at a high thumping tempo leaving not much room for the music to really breathe. Playing slow and measured is a real skill and something DeMarco is really starting to excel at. Pleasing for the stoner crowd too no doubt. The flip side of this though is that you sometimes wonder whether DeMarco is getting a little too settled into a comfort zone. It’s fantastic to hear a still quite young artist so comfortable in their own skin and self-assured about what their strengths are. But sometimes you just want Mac to change gear a little and throw in a few surprises. ‘On the Level’ is a great example of what he can achieve when he gets a little more experimental. Sure, we’re kind of back to the same keyboard and bass territory mentioned previously in ‘One Another’, but the production is just sublime and it’s no surprise this track is getting radio play.

My verdict? This album is a great addition to the DeMarco catalogue and well worth your time.

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