Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Mac DeMarco - Another One Review

For someone who everyone calls a goofball Mac DeMarco makes some pretty gloomy music. It’s an aggravating contradiction in that, where the lyrics show of despondent romances, failed encounters and improper care, the tunes shine through a cloudless sky as one relaxes on a sun-soaked beach. His 2014 release Salad Days was just as concerned with his quickly-advancing age as it was with the true love passing through his life. What caused the album to slack though was its instrumentation, guided by DeMarco’s acoustic guitar, where even simple inclusions of background vocals or basic synths piqued up ears in spots where they’d typically be commonplace. The variation made 90’s Ska sound diverse. His quick successor, Another One, is just that, another release aimed at replicating a sound he’s too content with expanding. In many facets, it’s worse. The lyrics, now entirely focused on a connective relationship, do away with DeMarco’s uneasiness over his life and aim to take on that lovable loser persona he declares as his own, making this mini-LP a one-dimensional affair with nothing to extrapolate from. 

One could make a fair argument though that that’s DeMarco’s point. While the lyrics don’t match the sound, his laid back, care-free grooves prime themselves for an abaft setting, a cheesy summer flick with a campfire montage being an easy one to discern. If it takes the lack of attention to make DeMarco’s music enjoyable, critical appreciation of it is lost. Another One suffers a fate destined to occur. Released just over a year from his noted Salad Days, in coercion with Some Other Ones, a free 9-track instrumental piece released in July, Another One reflects DeMarco’s world where mediocrity thrives. Songs are haphazardly thrown together without the thought of prior scrutiny, the lyrics are regurgitated melodramas that offer no unique viewpoint, and the instrumentation is whatever DeMarco finds lying around his apartment. What's quite indicative of the albums stale nature is the fact that Some Other Ones, slapped together in four days, is the better work, and not because of DeMarco’s lack of vocals, but because of the expression his absent voice lend to the production, which is more vibrant, varied, and offbeat. It reflects poorly on DeMarco when he can’t translate that deviating palate with his lyrical prose. 

Speaking of the lyrics, you’d be hard-pressed to find an album as overt and shallow. To put it simply, Another One finds a hopeless romantic in the midst of hopeful relationship. There’s nothing more to it, each song, somehow, exists purely for this reason. Rather than explain myself, I’ll let each chorus show you how mundane the album really is. “The way you’d love her,” “must be another one she loves,”her heart belongs to another,” “picking me up, just to put me down,” “never believe in a heart like hers,”I’ve been waiting for her,” and “without me.” That’s every chorus on the album, it’s impressive how trivial it is. While it surely is cohesive, there’s absolutely no depth to be found. This relationship seems to consume DeMarco’s life, but rather than investigate it, he wallows in its primitive dilemmas, never expanding, never concerned with anything more than what’s on the surface. The tender moments on Salad Days were largely similar, but the variation kept it tolerable, the title track and others like it diverted the path to show DeMarco’s background, crucial information into his relational issues. Here, there’s none of that. All we know is there’s another man, a fact DeMarco makes painfully obvious multiple times, as he does with all other talking points here.

Unfortunately the production isn’t much better, largely centering around an acoustic guitar, drums, some keyboards, and hints of synthesizers. In other words, what you’d expect. The sounds are nice and whimsical, happy-go-lucky and breezy, and given the right mood they’re prime for the time. It’s hard to focus on Another One though, given that each song gives off the same vibe, a quick scan through the tracks will show a simplicity unmatched, even by DeMarco’s earlier works. As always though, and not helping its cause, the final track is instrumental, ending with a blunt sendoff by the man himself. ‘My House By The Water’ is a fitting finale, melancholy in its distorted keyboard insistence, and juxtaposing to ‘Johnny’s Odyssey,’ the outro of Salad Days. But, like Another One implies by its drivel title, everything is the same, down to DeMarco’s ending, a cap on the imitative presence of the LP. His self-aware adieu shows his carefree nature, giving out his actual address is something I can’t do anything but applaud him for, committed to his true-to-life jovial blithe. 

It’s a shame to witness DeMarco’s regression because he seems like a nice guy, maybe too nice, too careless, too content with his current music situation. 2 offered an assorted palate, one that existed to showcase the artists worth in Indie. But now, given his cult-like status, the stagnation begins, fearful to expand, relying on what works without considering its redundancy. It’ll be interesting to see how long DeMarco stays relevant if he continues along this path, even the most devout of listeners can’t condone dozens of songs following the same pattern. It’s hard to even single out a track to discuss because of their sheer resemblance. ‘Just To Put Me Down’ might be the best here just for its pleasurable refrain that extends beyond DeMarco’s typical limits, a welcome oddity on an otherwise stagnate album. But other than that, everything here seems like worthy throwaways off Salad Days, a B-side compliation best left on the cutting room floor. Just like how DeMarco says about ‘The Way You’d Love Her’ on NPR “it’s pretty much your standard guitar Mac DeMarco song,” i’ll gladly extend that out to the entire album, an album hardly worth its existence. 

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