Mac Demarco – Salad Days
Captured Tracks, 2014
Mac Demarco’s guitar sounds sick. Not like, “Sick brah,” sick, like in bed with a head cold sick. The easygoing riffs somehow find a way to shimmer despite sounding like they’re wrapped in gauze and played on the worst guitar in the world. Though Demarco’s tendency for raunchiness in a live setting precedes him, the image of Mac Demarco the prankster/goofball/dipshit contrasts sharply with Mac Demarco the pop genius. This motherfucker can write a motherfucking song.
Or 34 songs, for that matter. That’s how many songs he’s released in the last three years over three successive albums (2012’s Rock and Roll Night Club and 2013’s 2). Each one has been a strange, murky, hard-to-put-a-finger on blend of lo-fi bedroom pop injected with a healthy dose of total weirdness, slacker vibes oozing from slack guitars, and pure animal magnetism. I cannot stop listening to Salad Days. It’s pretty much a perfect summer record. I’ve been listening to it at work in the mornings, in the basement shooting pool on my father in law’s uneven pool table, in the car, on the back deck watching the sunset. It’s just been following me around like a mangy dog that you can’t help but love.
All of this would just be your common Brooklyn bedroom bullshit if it weren’t for Demarco’s knack for pairing his hazy, tuneful gems with surprisingly insightful, if simple, lyrics. My two favorite tracks on the record—“Let Her Go” and “Treat Her Better”—are perfect little bad boyfriend songs. Maybe I’ve just been in too many of those conversations where a buddy is telling me that he doesn’t know if he wants to be with a lady and had words like “Tell her that you love her/ If you really love her/ But if your heart just ain’t sure/ Let her go” or “Treat her better boy/ If having her around is something you enjoy.” He’s not gonna win any songwriting competitions, but the sentiment is refreshing in a songwriting world of “she done me wrong” and fuck you songs.
Salad Days is the most complete work yet from who has found a way to balance being prolific and improving on each consecutive release, and I’m sure at this rate his next album will be another gem as well. It’s not a masterpiece, but it gives me the impression that Demarco definitely has a masterpiece in him and we will probably be hearing it sooner rather than later. Demarco’s complete deconstruction of the Pop Song is marvelous, and the arsenal of earworms on this one is truly impressive.
RIYL: Ween, Real Estate with a lobotomy, A Scuzzier Jonathan Richman
"Let Her Go"