24-year-old Canadian, Mac DeMarco doesn’t mind to stir things up a bit. His onstage behavior is memorable to many. Heavy drinking, smoking, nudity, obscenity and indecent jokes are a regular part of his sloppy looking performances. At home things are not very tidy as well. The Guardian describes his house to be a dump and quotes him saying “I live like a scumbag, but it’s cheap”.
Ok, DeMarco likes to keep things loose and is obviously very happy with that. Looming stardom is however threatening his nonchalant way of life. 2 (2012), DeMarco’s first full album was a success among brohemians and raised the peer pressure for an even better sophomore significantly. And as you might have guessed, pressure and DeMarco’s lifestyle aren’t exactly a great combination.
During the start of Salad Days, DeMarco mentions a struggle with the expectations surrounding him: “Oh mama, actin’ like my life’s already over. Oh dear, act your age and try another year”. However, the struggle seems very short-lived, for in the second part of the chorus he explicitly pushes expectations aside and carelessly picks up the pace of 2. If I had two words to describe 11-tracker Salad Days I would say it’s warm and laid back. Songs such as ‘Blue Boy’, ‘Brother’, ‘Treat Her Better’, and in particular ‘Go Easy’, are dominated by washy guitar play and serve as an ideal soundtrack for soothing early afternoon hangovers… with another beer that is. Songs like this do drawn upon DeMarco earlier workbut at the same time also resembles the style of another outcast, Connan Mockasin, who indeed takes the daydreaming to a more deeper level.
Within this atmosphere and that of uncompromising waywardness ‘Goodby Weekend’ is my favorite DeMarco song to date. Here he sings: “Goodbye weekend, so long darling […] If you don’t agree with the things that go on within in my life. Well honey that’s fine there’s no itch in wasting your time”. Although this form of tough talking is a significant part of Salad Days, DeMarco isn’t completely free from the demands of his label wanting an even more accessible album that’s able to compete with Kurt Vile, Adam Green and alikes. With the radio friendly ‘Let Her Go’ he complies to this wish. It’s said he did so unwillingly, but whilst the song does hit the catchiness spot it also suits the overall outline of the album just fine. Only the seventh and ninth track ‘Passing Out Pieces’ and ‘Chamber Of Reflection’ are out of place when compared to the others. On the first heavy organ-synths are plowed through the song and same goes for the second, only with higher synths. Both tracks evoke feelings of indolence, a feeling I presume artists like Mac DeMarco deal with on a daily basis.
Despite of the high expectations Mac DeMarco does not sell himself out in anyway. Instead he continues to be the slacker he always was and takes the easy path of creating music we all heard before. Was the path that easy though? Probably not, it was quite an effort for him to ignore the eye of the public and other stakeholders. Nevertheless he succeeded in putting fun on the first place when recording Salad Days. And did we really heard it all before? Maybe we did, also but there we no intentions to experiment. DeMarco does what he does best and in the process slightly reorients his style: whereas 2 was product fleet-footedness, Salad Days is much more an album to drift away to.
In the end DeMarco kept his calm in the studio, what could consequently mean he is hinting to settle down? This thought alone is indeed crazy and on top of that, the ambiguous ‘hidden’ ending of Salad Days also suggests he’s not ready for something like that. So let’s just say, Mac DeMarco is Mac DeMarco, a scumbag who’s able to make some great music, simple as that.
Label: Captured Tracks, 2014
- Salad Days (2:26)
- Blue Boy (2:06)
- Brother (3:33)
- Let Her Go (3:03)
- Goodbye Weekend (3:00)
- Let My Baby Stay (4:08)
- Passing Out Pieces (2:47)
- Treat Her Better (3:49)
- Chamber of Reflection (3:52)
- Go Easy (3:25)
- Johnny’s Odyssey (2:38)
Review by Wander Meulemans // 140514