When I first heard Mac Demarco on Rock And Roll Night Club I felt kind of queasy. It was an uncomfortable feeling, really. Even the album cover with Demarco putting on lipstick put me in mind of Jame Gumb from Silence of the Lambs doing the same thing. You know, right before the tuck and dance that no one will ever forget? Anyways, Mac Demarco gave off this bizarre vibe that was part super friendly dude at the laundromat that was always wanting to talk; and part super creepy dude at the laundromat that was always wanting to get your phone number. Once he released 2 the creepy vibe subsided a bit. It became this huffing-induced happiness that made you think as long as you were in an alternate state you’d probably really like this guy. After several listens the petroleum-soaked rag wasn’t needed; Mac Demarco was indeed a weirdo but one that could write really catchy songs. Salad Days improves on the fidelity and sunny disposition of 2, and even makes Mac an endearing kind of guy. Endearing in a way David Foster Wallace would write endearing.
Demarco has described his style of music as “jizz jazz”, and disconcerting as that description is it does fit. Not quite pop music, but not weird enough to be anything else, Mac Demarco’s music is woozy and dreamy much like the feeling of an inner ear infection and a heavy dose of painkillers. “Salad Days” starts up as if 2 just finished spinning, with a Kinks vibe in the “Picture Book”-esque “la la la la la’s”. Even though he claims to using second, third, and fourth rate instruments to make his albums I don’t think anything else would do for Mac Demarco. A song like “Blue Boy” wouldn’t have it’s slightly out-of-tune charm with a well built guitar. It needs a bent neck and lousy tuners in order to give it the proper “jizz jazz” treatment. “Brother” wavers more on the jazz side of things, with an almost soft rock lean. Anyone else doing this in 2014 would be shunned and sent home to cry on their Steely Dan records, but Demarco does this sort of thing with just enough earnestness while slyly grinning you can’t help but dig it. “Let Her Go” has an island sway. It’s a song that should be playing during those summer backyard barbeques or when stalking that ex-girlfriend on a warm summer night. “Passing Out Pieces” is a decidedly different sound, with more of that signature Captured Tracks sound. What’s that sound, you say? Well it’s bringing in a analog synth and cranking up the 80s-style keys and letting them tell the story. “What mama don’t know, has taken it’s toll on me” Demarco sings over a jaunty and well-aged groove. This sound is a good fit for Mac.
I’ve come to the conclusion that Mac Demarco is a weirdo at heart, but not the creepy weirdo of Rock and Roll Night Club lore. He’s just an off-kilter guy that happens to play fourth-rate instruments in order to make first rate songs.
8.6 out of 10