Words by Brian Salvatore
There is a laconic sensibility that Mac DeMarco is able to produce that is virtually unparalleled. Another One is a melodic nap in a hammock, beer balanced on your gut, enjoying the breeze. DeMarco himself, with his thrift store guitar, shitty baseball cap, and his ‘Wife of Bath’ gap in his teeth, doesn’t exactly give off the image of a guy making music that sounds this smooth. The Flaming Lips once released a compilation called Finally, the Punk Rockers are Taking Acid – DeMarco’s could be called Finally, the Punk Rocker Embraces Christopher Cross.
Not that this is yacht rock, but it is yacht rock adjacent; let’s call it paddle boat rock. Not quite as glamorous, or slick, but even more fun and just a little childish.
This mini-LP – 8 songs, 24 minutes – is as strong of a collection of songs as DeMarco has ever released. The centerpiece of the record, “A Heart Like Hers,” is the most produced track on the record, featuring a lilting pump organ and the record’s longest running time (a baroque 4:03) – the song is the most meticulously composed of his career, featuring strong counter melody throughout. A number of the tracks suggest the new setting of Mac’s home life – as the final track states, “My House on the Water.” As a guy who lives on a (small, man made) lake, I can attest that this record gives off a vibe that is unmistakably faux-nautical, which plays into the paddle boat rock classification.
And yet, despite the change in Mac’s life, this record doesn’t sound too different from what we’ve come to expect from his catalog. Maybe there’s a bit more washed out keyboards, and maybe the pace is slightly slower, but this is very much in line with what we’ve come to expect. This can be taken two ways; no one wanted the Ramones to add a harp, but by the mid-80s, the routine wore thin sometimes. Luckily, DeMarco’s songwriting chops don’t grow Animal Boy stale – “The Way You’d Love Her” is, perhaps, his most perfect pop song to date, and the title track is arranged beautifully. The arrangements, in general, suggest that DeMarco would probably make one hell of a producer for other artists.
The record ends with DeMarco clearly stating the address for his new home, and invites the listener over for some coffee. The effect is somehow not at all shocking – sure, no one expects a musician to publicly state their residence, but DeMarco delivers the invitation with such sincerity that it feels like your old pal Mac just being Mac, opening his door to you. Although I doubt I’ll be riding out to Far Rockaway anytime soon to pop in on a total stranger, the vibe and contents of the record make it a tempting offer.
© August 7th, 2015
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