Album Review: Another One by Mac DeMarco

Mac Demarco. Photo Maria Louceiro) Mac Demarco. Photo Maria Louceiro)

Since the turn of the century, an ever-growing number of indie bands have been surfacing all across the world, striving for a “retro” aesthetic. It’s commonplace to hear bands use lo-fi quality recording and delve up cheesy ’80s synth noises in order to sound kitsch and to keep with the recent trend. In my opinion one of the musicians who pulls this process off the best has to be Mac DeMarco. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed Mac’s 2014 album “Salad Days.” Although the songs were simple, the album presented an overall lazy-day air to it and the production and guitar tone were infectious. Songs like “Blue Boy” and “Salad Days” struck me as being particularly concise pop tunes while successfully sporting a ’60s psychedelic pop flavor with a modern indie twist. Stoners of the world united in celebrating that album and I did too. Mac does the sound justice better than nearly anyone out there.

In short, “Another One” fastens Mac’s stranglehold on this style on music. Although just a short eight tracks, each song here (except perhaps the closer, “My House By The Water”) has a good song at its core and well-produced instrumentation to back it up. Mac’s jangly guitar-tone is pretty consistently heard throughout this EP. In addition, Mac brings some nice moody keys on tracks like “Another One.” All the songs here are about love or heartbreak, but Mac does a great job at selling the topic with his emotion and his relatable character. “I’ve Been Waiting For Her” has a danceable groove to it while “A Heart Like Hers” shows Mac going in a slow, sad ballad direction. He pulls off both of these directions with ease and conviction.

Although the songs at the core here are consistently gold, in comparison to this album’s predecessor, “Salad Days,” this album perhaps is less ambitious in its length, scope and instrumentation. “Another One” is only 24 minutes long, and most every track here has a similar vibe to it. That’s good in a certain way — it gives this EP a consistency. Nonetheless, Mac is a bit of a one-note piano here, singing of his heartbreak with the same words, just in a different order on each track. Debatably when it comes to Mac the lyrics aren’t the focal point though. Nonetheless, he plays less here than on “Salad Days” with odd time signatures and experimental instrumentation. Each song here is pretty consistent to a certain extent, while on “Salad Days” songs like “Johnny’s Odyssey” and “Chamber of Reflection” stood out for their relative change of pace.

The biggest change of pace here is in the final song, “My House By The Water,” which literally consists of the sounds of water with some keyboards over it. Although simple and repetitive, it’s a nice closer for the album in a certain way. After all the heartbreak, the sound of the water is relaxing and it’s easy to imagine Mac there, contemplating his mistakes. The track ends with Mac’s voice coming in, inviting you over to his place for some coffee. He gives the listener his address.

“6802 Bayfield Ave. Arverne, New York. Stop on by. I’ll make you a cup of coffee. See you later.”

I found this to be a very enjoyable and listenable album. It may not be that much of a change of pace for Mac, but he does what we does well, in my opinion. If you didn’t like “Salad Days” or you don’t like Mac’s character, I’d advise you to not go forwards with this one. It’s not all that different from his past efforts and perhaps a step back in general scope. However, if you were a fan of his past projects, I’d be hard-pressed to imagine you disliking this one. Mac’s back and he’s got some more great tunes.

74/100

“Another One” comes out August 7 on Captured Tracks Records. Mac DeMarco plays at Metropolis on August 13 at 8 p.m. $30.

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