Mac Demarco – This Old Dog

Written by Bradley Naylor (@Brad_Kittens)

For the first five years of his career, Canadian “jizz-jazzer” and singer-songwriter, Mac Demarco has pushed his way through the throng of the alternative music masses, and is now arguably the shining light of the alternative scene. Since the bubbly, Spongebob-esque melodies of ‘2′ and the bittersweet tenderness of ‘Salad Days’, Demarco has shown himself to be an incredibly talented and entertaining young musician. His simple, yet effective approach to lyricism pairs well with the Smithsonian/Bikini-Bottom-tinged melodies on his second and third LPs, which have seemingly struck a chord with legions of devoted fans spanning across the globe. Demarco’s hordes of greasy-haired, baggy-trousered, cigarette-smoking devotees have really seemed to embrace not only his extremely catchy melodies, but also his aesthetic and persona. It strikes me that Mac could potentially be the sort of band – like the Velvet Underground and The Pixies – that instantly make you wanna be in band after listening to their records.

After the success of his last two albums, it was obviously a tense time for Mac releasing his newest LP, ‘This Old Dog’. Will it live up to the hype? Or will he deliver an album that is okay, but nothing special, like many so many prospering artists have done in the past. I must admit I was rather anxious that Mac may lose traction with this album. But this anxiety was lovingly soothed by some real gems on ‘This Old Dog’. I recently saw two separate interviews by Mac in which he declared his fondness for Paul Simon and John Lennon, most notably the latter’s ‘Plastic Ono Band’ LP, and this really does show in the new record. The more upbeat, Mac-like tunes come from the likes of ‘Baby You’re Out’, a funky and infectious number which evokes the sounds of ‘2’, to ‘A Wolf Who Wears Sheep’s Clothes’ which could easily fit into a Simon & Garfunkel record, or even Paul Simon’s ‘Graceland’. The Lennon influence in this record really shines through in songs like ‘Still Beating’ – perhaps my favourite on the record after a few listens – it’s a song which sees Mac cookin’ up something good; his capoed guitar perfectly accompanied by those contagious melodies that everyone know and loves. This song feels like Mac’s response to ‘Woman’ or ‘Jealous Guy’, and I believe it will certainly become a fan favourite.

The title track and ‘My Old Man’ will also most definitely be welcomed into many playlists, along with the other of his pre-album released singles, ‘On The Level’ and ‘One More Love Song’, both of which show a progressive side to Demarco’s songwriting process. ‘One More Love Song’ points towards the tracks off the  ‘Another One’ EP with its starry-eyed echoes of romance. ‘On The Level’ really shows off Mac’s musically progressive side, with the heavy use of synthesizers which are reminiscent of MGMT’s sound. ‘Moonlight On The River’, the album’s penultimate track, sees Mac exploring themes of loss or distance; the song feels like it really could be from somewhere deep, highlighting DeMarco’s increasing maturity as a songwriter. Its shoe-gazey, extended outro certainly adds an uncomfortable aura to the track, giving it a twist that we haven’t really seen from Mac, but hopefully we will see more of in the future.
I believe our favourite Canadian goof has really shone on this new album. It does take a few listens to really start getting into it, but patience is a virtue, and the album sure does deliver once you’ve had time to take it in. He seems to have created a win/win situation for himself with ‘This Old Dog’ by presenting himself as an established artist who wants to venture further out of his comfort zone, whilst satisfying those who are just dying for more of the infectiousness of ‘2’ and ‘Salad Days’. The future looks bright.


‘This Old Dog’ is out now via Captured Tracks.

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