Mac DeMarco releases a soothing, acoustic-based album

Chris Duncan

Mac DeMarco has built an empire for himself on dirty overalls and gapped teeth. Now, with his newest record, he is abandoning some of what made him so popular and bringing in a new group to join the party.

DeMarco’s first studio album “2” was an instant success, praised by critics and fans alike for its lo-fi, indie and shoegaze vibes. Since his debut, DeMarco has only grown in fame, releasing Salad Days and a piano-based Mini-LP “Another One.” Now, he’s turned to acoustic guitars and drum machines on his newest record “This Old Dog,” an album more mature and developed than his previous releases.

“This Old Dog” may initially come across as a lazy effort from DeMarco — it’s a slow paced record compared to many of his previous efforts. However, with a couple more listens the project slowly blooms, revealing its true intentions. Unlike his previous albums, DeMarco gets deep and personal, delving into insecurities he’s suppressed and possibly struggled with his entire life.

Calm and laid back instrumentation complement DeMarco’s lyrics and overall messages on a majority of songs, something DeMarco has dabbled with before with songs such as “Chamber of Reflection.” Songs such as “My Old Man” discuss Mac’s feelings about losing his character and becoming more like his abusive and alcohol-dependent father. This theme continues throughout the album, bringing up DeMarco’s childhood and juxtaposing sadness with happiness.

DeMarco’s relationship with his father plays out in several other songs on this record, including the extremely emotional final two tracks “Moonlight on the River” and “Watching Him Fade Away.” In the past, DeMarco’s songs were lacking beyond surface-level likability, but by bringing in a strong pop ballad influence, DeMarco evolves from a somewhat gimmicky artist into a developed and insightful singer-songwriter that many indie fans only dream of.

Other tracks such as “This Old Dog” and “One More Love Song” slowly croon with sadness. In the case of “One More Love Song” DeMarco concludes that some people may never find true love and that their efforts to do so are often in vain. Although it’s not comforting to hear DeMarco make some of these declarations, especially in comparison to some of his previous tracks, his insights are fresh and turn out well when coupled with mellow instrumentation.

To top it all off, “This Old Dog” has the most impressive production from any DeMarco album thus far in his discography. Since DeMarco produces the records himself, he’s constantly improving and able to shape his vision exactly how he imagines it. However, it’s obvious through tracks such as “Still Beating” and “A Wolf Who Wears Sheep Clothes,” that DeMarco took his time layering the instruments, often making instrumentation light and fluffy to counteract the usually melancholic, nostalgic lyrics.

After a few listens, it’s obvious that “This Old Dog” is a step towards DeMarco becoming a more serious singer-songwriter. Even though they might not immediately show their true colors, the pop hooks and catchy songs fans have come to expect are still there, but this time they are topped off with the best lyrics of any DeMarco project yet. “This Old Dog” may be the most impressive of DeMarco’s studio albums and promises a bright future for DeMarco’s presence in the music world.

Rating: 8/10