Mac Demarco is a hard one to put your finger on. On his last two albums 2 and Salad Days there was a definitely this vibe of a true blue singer/songwriter. He could put together these breezy, carefree tunes that brought to mind Harry Nilsson, Jonathan Richman, and even Cat Stevens. But there was this element of the queasy variety about him that made you think something wasn’t right. It was like he was the perverse id  those guys pushed down and hid in their subconscious. The muffled lo fi aesthetic of those albums, especially 2, put off this dirty dark room vibe. Some dude hidden away in a room making creepy odes to cooking drugs, smoking cigarettes all night, and just generally fermenting in their own four day funk. And yet, there’s something undeniably endearing about this Canadian weirdo.

Mac Demarco is back and following up his 2014 Salad Days with the undeniably sunny This Old Dog. It’s a mostly acoustic affair that highlights those 70s singer/songwriter tendencies with a “drinking tequila in a hammock on the beach” vibe. I’m sure he’s still a weirdo, but Demarco is a songwriter first and foremost here.

“My Old Man” is a big acoustic strummer of a song, built on a drum machine rhythm, big acoustic strums, and Demarco’s double tracked vocals. Soon enough woozy keys come in as the chorus repeats ” Uh oh, looks like, I’m seeing more of my old man in me”. Demarco was recently on Marc Maron’s WTF Podcast and he talked about his dad leaving when he was young and having a strained relationship with him. This songs seems to be touching on that. “This Old Dog” is a straight up love song. “This old dog ain’t about to forget/All we’ve had/And all that’s next/’Long as my heart’s beating in my chest/This old dog ain’t about to forget”. It’s a beautiful song that is the most earnest and honest Demarco has been up to this point. “Baby You’re Out” is a fun and funky number with a quirky keyboard. “For The First Time” reminds me a lot of Dent May. It has woozy early 80s synth and a melancholy vibe. It goes into more of an Ambrosia-on-Ambien vibe, complete with soft rock “come hither” bedroom eyes. But it doesn’t come off as cheeky. It comes off as sincere.

Elsewhere “One Another” rides on more soft rock melancholy and “Still Beating” has some jazzy guitar and that woozy Demarco swagger telling a tale of love and woe. “Sister” is a simple and sad ode. “Dreams From Yesterday” and “One More Love Song” feel like shots of top 40 radio from 1982 and “On The Level” seem to be tapping that same production vein that Kevin Parker did on Currents. “Watching Him Fade Away” closes the record on an honest gut punch from a hurt boy to his deadbeat dad. It’s made all the more effective by the simple delivery of just Mac’s voice and a keyboard.

I don’t think Mac Demarco will stop being the perverse clown on stage and in social media, and really who wants him to? I think he’s perpetually the class clown. It’s him. But underneath the jokey interviews and nudity he’s a hell of a songwriter. This Old Dog is absolute proof of that.

7.9 out of 10

 

18 thoughts on “Mac Demarco : This Old Dog

      1. Well… according to Google Maps, it’d take me 7h 21m to drive to your house, and 33h to get to Edmonton. So I’m much closer to you than I am to his hometown! Though he is a Canuck, which makes him a good guy somewhere in there. 🙂

        PS Under Photos on your town on the Maps page, the first two I saw were that big castle-looking (probably) government) building with the spire, and a Wendy’s.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Only 7 hours??? Hell man jump in the family wagon and head on down! We could make a day of visiting record shops! I’ll grill out, too!

        Edmonton is a haul.

        The courthouse. Yeah, that’s where nothing happens. The Wendy’s conducts more important business.

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      3. Funny thing is, it really is a station wagon! Our trusty 9-year old Subaru Legacy which, if I’m not mistaken, was at least assembled in your fine State!

        Yeah, 7 hours’s drive is entirely conceivable… and now our UK friends go “whaaaaaaaaaaa??” Haha.

        I know when we lived in Saskatoon, it was about 6-6.5 hours to get to Calgary. Winnipeg was 9-10 hours. We never went there.

        Yeah, if you wanna go west from my town, it takes a looooong time just to get out of Ontario if you go up north and around the lake. If I was going to Edmonton from here, I would book a flight. But I would happily drive 7 hours to get to Montreal from here. I would leave right now. I love that town. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      4. I’ve heard great things about Montreal. And Subaru Legacy is a solid car! Love the Forester as well.

        Hell, 7 hours north gets me to Mackinac Island. U.P., baby.

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      5. Man, a piece of Montreal got into my soul and I’ll never forget it. I will always yearn to go back there.

        The Legacy kicks serious ass. What a car. Her name is Patience, and she may be 9 years old but she’s as solid as ever. I drove a Forester, loved it. Way outta my price range, though!

        Um, wouldn’t the map work in reverse? If it takes me 7.5 hours to get to your door, it oughta be the same for you coming here… unless they think you’re trying to flee the country, then you might have border hassles…

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      6. Indeed the map does work in reverse. I’d love to hit some record stores up your way.

        Forester is out of my price range, too. Unless we’re talking a 2012 or older. Then maybe.

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      7. Record stores? Here in my town? Hahaha sorry, nope I wouldn’t have you come all this way just to be so very disappointed. I’ll meet you in Toronto, how about that 🙂

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      8. Also, we got our Legacy at 4 years old, a lease return. In our 5th year of driving it ourselves, now, and it’s a tank. LOVE IT. I’d get a Forester, but it hasn’t got nearly the cargo space of our wagon, and with small kids, we need the space!

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