Mac DeMarco - 2
A voice that Darth Vader would be proud of announces "uh, hi, it's Mac DeMarco here. Enjoy the video," before a dishevelled looking man waltzes up from the middle of the sea and points triumphantly at the camera. This is my first encounter with the music of Mac DeMarco, via his video to 'She's Really All I Need'. His Facebook page is brimming with barely legible updates of where the musician is in the world and some distorted pictures of people painted as clowns. It's all very strange, and it's even stranger how greatly Canadian musician Mac DeMarco's image strays from his comparatively normal sound.
It's unexpected but oddly reassuring when the sound of a guitar commences the album on 'Cooking Up Something Good', which is shortly accompanied by the picture of a comfortable but dull life created by the lyrics. It's certainly not as weird as expected, and it's nothing that you would struggle to get your head around, but there is a confident intelligence in the uncomfortably tuned guitar or similarities of both verses and choruses that reflect the restless words. The simplicity of the album is established straight away. Everything- the mid-tempo pace, the cheerful hooks, the personal lyrics, even the eponymous album title- all casually suggest that Mac DeMarco is completely comfortable with this record. It doesn't have the same theatrical nature as Rock and Roll Night Club, which serves as a reminder that not all good albums have to start explosively.
'Dreaming' is a quietly stamping, laid back, fuzzy pop number with tiny hints of psychedelic influences, and this calm quality continues into 'Freaking Out The Neighbourhood', which sounds like the end of summer encapsulated in musical form. Again, these tracks perfectly balance along that fine line between not being brave enough and pushing those experimentations that little bit too far.
'Annie' is the sound of The Velvet Underground jabbed incessantly with guitars and forced to play at a space aged themed diner during its closing hours. It's lyrically dark, and although Mac DeMarco has a tendency to sit back let the rhythm of his songs do the talking, it's impossible to ignore his voice here as he croons "you know when I'm lonely/and honey I'm lonely/I'm going down." 'The Stars Keep on Calling My Name' sounds similarly personal as the lyrics either communicate a restlessness and a longing for fame, or tell a patronising lie- "honey, this town's really taking its toll." Like DeMarco himself, there may be more to the song than what it initially seems. Although Mac DeMarco 2 isn't as conceptual as Rock and Roll Night Club, every song is fascinating in that no matter how much the meaning of each track seems obvious, there will be something new to consider or understand after every listen.
If I had to think of a sound to match the bizarre character that comes across on social media, it wouldn't be this, but the surprise that comes with the album is the furthest thing from disappointing. This record contains an excellent blend of maturity and an inexplicably addictive coolness on every level that isn't often achieved.
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