Mac DeMarco is cooler than you — he just is. From road crew worker to high-school teacher to full-time rocker, DeMarco’s path to semi-stardom has been anything but straightforward. Mac is not your typical musician, he’s a raunchy grease-ball; he’s zany, impulsive, and far from politically correct (he once stuck a drumstick up his butt at a show). Opting for worn-out hats and ripped jeans where others flock towards wide-rimmed glasses and million-mile stares, DeMarco has broken the mold of the too-cool-for-school, holier-than-thou indie rocker. With a laid-back approach and a fondness for cross-dressing, Mac is a breath of fresh air in a room full of stagnant farts.
Born in Duncan, British Colombia, the man formerly known as Makeout Videotape has been making his own music since the ripe age of 14, describing his sound as “jizz-jazz” because “it sounds a little bit sexy, a little bit jazzy, a little bit creamy, and a little bit funky.” Call it what you will, DeMarco has a knack for churning out whimsical guitar jams that toe the line between low-fidelity dream pop and in-your-face rock and roll. In 2012, DeMarco released 2, earning rave reviews and the distinction of “Best New Music” by Pitchfork in the process. Fast-forward nearly two years to Salad Days, which sees Mac grow as much as a songwriter as a crafter of infectious melodies. Complementing his larger than life personality with total sincerity, Salad Days offers listeners a peak at DeMarco’s inner core — revealing the perceptive, intelligent individual that lays beneath the facade of an unassuming burnout. Over the melancholy guitars on “Blue Boy,” DeMarco sheds light on the silly insecurities that plague us all, chiming out that Blue Boy is “worried ‘bout the world’s eyes / Worried, every time the sun shines / Worried, ’bout his, haircut.”
One of the album’s certain highlights is DeMarco’s self-depreciating chat with himself on “Treat Her Better.” Referencing the story of Cain and Abel, he belts out that he “heard you were your brother’s keeper / That can’t be true, judging by the way you treat her.: Since coming into the limelight, DeMarco has endeared himself to listeners with his constant references to his better half, Kiki, who he even brought on stage at the 2013 edition of the Pitchfork Music Festival in Chicago. Revealing that he was “made to love her,” Mac bemoans the inherent uncertainty of the future on the album’s resident slow-burner: “Let My Baby Stay.” Pleading his case, DeMarco prays that nobody take his love away, with his captivating falsetto gently guiding the track to a somber close.
However, the album’s best track comes in the form of “Brother,” a contemplative jaunt through the indiscretions of the past. Using his silky-smooth vocals to deliver some hard-earned experiential knowledge, Mac offers reassurance to those navigating troubled waters, encouraging them to “take it slowly,” to just “let it go.” Though his antics and lighthearted nature may suggest otherwise, DeMarco exhibits a sense of wisdom and self-awareness at 23 that many far beyond his years can only dream of.
An early contender for album of the year, Salad Days is an absorbing, expressive masterpiece; not one track stands out as weak, no filler to speak of here, folks. From the wobbly synths and jangly guitar riffs on “Passing Out the Pieces” to the sinister bass line on “Chamber of Reflection,” Mac DeMarco has produced the quintessential summer soundtrack — bright and airy, yet sentimental and meditative when it needs to be. With gap-toothed allure and slacker appeal, Mac may have just charmed his way into my heart. Give him a chance, and who knows, the same might happen to you.
Written By Noveen Bajpai