Album Review: Mac DeMarco – Another One
Another One (Captured Tracks)
Everybody’s favourite Viceroy ambassador has returned to our speakers this summer, though it doesn’t feel like he’s been away at all. The sixteen months that have passed since the release of Salad Days have seen Mac DeMarco’s diary fully booked with globetrotting duties, clowning at festivals, end-of-year garlanding, and a steady stream of delightful interviews and press pops. Fans have been able to watch Mac brandishing selfie-sticks, tackling bizarre interview topics, and competing in quizzes with his own mother, and plenty more besides, satisfying his cultish fanbase’s desires for more of his trademark goofiness. Mac feels as accessible and personable as a chummy guy living a few doors away; an appeal heightened by the open invitation to join him for a coffee that closes his latest creation. As a result of this infectiously enjoyable drip-feed of Mac pranks, the arrival of Another One feels very speedy − even more so given that title, which seems to flash a gap-toothed grin of its own.
Promoted and released as a “mini-LP”, it’s hard to imagine Another One sounding more casual than it already does. Written and recorded inside of a few weeks, these seven songs (and a closing instrumental) lope and languish in mid-tempo lovesickness; a formula which gives the whole package a wafting, meandering quality. It’s exactly what one would expect to hear from a Mac DeMarco recording, but even as the songwriter’s charms continue to hold sway, there’s a drifting vagueness to Another One which can occasionally feel reductive, especially in its midsection. However, this is partially to do with the diminutive nature of the mini-LP form: it’s much less an artistic statement than it is a bonus set of songs, providing a bridge between Salad Days and Mac’s next project − whatever that may be. There’s no narrative thread or singular voice binding these tracks together; instead, in the simplest terms, it’s Mac examining variations on matters of the “L-word”.
In subject matter and execution, this is Mac’s softest, soppiest release to date. Proceedings are less bristly than those of Salad Days, less frittersome than 2, and musically much less busy than either. Opener ‘The Way You’d Love Her’ is vintage Mac; that signature wobbly guitar tone, jauntily skipping rhythms, and Mac’s own playful drawl (“How’s your heart been beating? / How’s your skin been keeping?”) as familiar and snug as a baseball cap. The songs that follow are much more limited in terms of toolkit, and Mac takes on a something-for-everybody approach to the lovestruck themes in a manner which mostly works. There is swooning delight alongside shuffling heartbreak, mature acceptance contrasted with issues of trust. On ‘Heart Like Hers’, Mac plays the wounded soul, crooning about “poor old me” in a self-pitying swirl. Moments later, the chirruping guitars of ‘I’ve Been Waiting For Her’ wrest with the same insuppressible triumph as anthems such as the Stone Roses’ ‘This is the One’ (albeit in a much lighter fashion). Mac sounds particularly sensitive during the pedal-washed warmth of ‘Without Me’, in which his romantic dalliance comes to a respectful, sympathetic close. The songwriting is crisp and unfussy, and while Another One lacks anything remotely resembling new ground, there’s nothing here to upset fans of Mac’s established style. Critics may dig at the record’s lack of mettle or momentum, but that doesn’t feel relevant to the point of Another One, nor the approach of Mac himself. Instead − as always − what lingers is the curious juxtaposition between the gentle balladry and the daft sight of our hero playing a drumkit amid lapping waves (see the ‘Another One’ video below). You can reach for deeper meaning all you want, but it’s really just a good bit of fun.
Summer is a bittersweet season, and Viceroy may have to settle for sharing their poster-boy as the face of sun-dappled heartache. Mac may be in a tender mood throughout Another One, but as he promises on ‘No Other Heart’, he never fails to bring along a few sparkles, dosing this languid collection with personality and simple, pleasant melodies. It’s hardly set up for immortality, but Another One is warm enough to tide us over for the rest of the summer. (And if you can, go take him up on that offer of a cup of coffee.)
“Stop on by, I’ll make you a cup of coffee. See ya later.”
Posted on August 6, 2015, in The Music World and tagged 2, Album Review, Another One, Captured Tracks, Coffee, Heart Like Hers, I've Been Waiting For Her, Mac DeMarco, Salad Days, The Way You'd Love Her, Without Me. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.