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Album review: Mac Demarco - Salad Days

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Circa his first EP, Rock And Roll Nightclub, Mac DeMarco was a rather odd fellow from Montreal slinging seemingly surreptitious lyrics in a hushed and mellow croon. His minimal accompaniments seemed to be formed of a guitar with just two strings, a drum set that apparently refused to be set up properly, and an air of sinister struggle.

There was a sense that this was a man who was scraping the barrel for everything he could get all while developing a sound that would later evolve into a beautiful trademark style.

His first full album, 2, saw that style evolve. Gone were the muddled instruments, lyricisms, general melancholia and despair. We instead received a leaner, less intense, but infinitely more developed and penetrating album

With Salad Days, DeMarco is back and better than ever, his sophomore full length album is incredibly produced, beautifully intricate, and full of lovely little surprises.

Having now essentially made it, playing festivals and generally living the incredible life of a musician in form, his songs cover topics such as having to cope with being away from his sweetheart (see the trio of songs: ‘Let Her Go’, ‘Goodbye Weekend’, ‘Let My Baby Stay’), being alone in different and new settings (‘Chamber of Reflection’), and perhaps the biggest theme of this album, the feeling of deterioration that is linked with constant touring and attention (‘Passing Out Pieces’ is a perfect example).

Not only has the 23 year old matured lyrically and in terms of production, he has developed instrumentally as well. Where a rather staunch set up of guitar-bass-drums previously made up essentially the entirety of his timbre closet, he now regularly experiments with analog synthesizers on several songs, making them the centre piece on certain occasions, as with ‘Chamber of Reflection’ and ‘Passing Out Pieces’.

Needless to say, in true Mac DeMarco fashion, the synthesizers are fed through what I can only assume to be fifty chorus modulation pedals as well; I wonder if he’ll eventually just stick his master tracks through a chorus pedal.

Gone are the labels of “glam-wannabe”, “being overtly influenced by Steely Dan”, “the new Kurt Vile”, or being “too lewd”. Mac DeMarco has forged an unmistakable style.

His talent is faultless and his ability to construct such casually exciting music on his own is remarkable. This album deserves to be listened to as Spring rolls around, flings will blossom and then withers, but Mac DeMarco is here to stay.

Salad Days is out now on Captured Tracks

Originally published on The Edge.

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