The Canadian artist Mac DeMarco is not a man. He is a prickly and mud-colored kiwi with a soft and sweet inner fruit. Wait, no … He is neither man nor kiwi; he is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma. He is everything and he is nothing. More specifically he is a hodgepodge, an amorphous mix of trying-too-hard hipster attire and not-trying-at-all “slacker” strumming of his jazzy guitar. He is …
This has to stop. None of this is accurate. DeMarco doesn’t resemble a kiwi and is most certainly not shrouded in an enigma. He and his music are more akin to a peach: sweet, simple and satisfying but the same throughout and best enjoyed in a lazy state of being.
Following a naïve and romantic notion that nothing is exactly as it seems on the surface, I went searching for any sign that DeMarco was more than a slacker.
I sought, overturning every rock and pebble, a piece of proof that DeMarco was secretly and truly more than the persona he gives off. But no, it’s all much simpler than my complex fantasy of the man; his life narrative matches his music, which aligns itself perfectly with his lyrics. This sentiment is perfectly embodied and fully realized in his second full-length studio album, Salad Days. The phrase itself refers to a youthful time marked by inexperience, idealism or indiscretion. A title so uncaring and simple, it could only be topped by the apathetic title of his previous LP, 2.
It must be conceded at this point, without any further derision, that the album is great for its niche. It’s a head-bobbing, hum-along type of music that lifts your spirits and makes you laugh. It’s fun to listen to. Its slow, jazzy vibe can be listened to for hours on end. The rhythm of the guitar is distinct from the milder background percussion and offers a smooth melody checked by deep vocals that glide through each track. The lyrics, although slacker-affirming, are still catchy and at times funny, like the ending track which includes two-and-a-half minutes of tight production full of atmospheric synths, twangy guitar and rhythmic bass. When the music ceases, the lyrics are spoken and comprised of only four short lines, “Hi, guys, this is Mac. Thanks for joining me. See you again soon. Buh-bye.” It’s succinct, fun and utterly Mac.
“Let Her Go” has a simple guitar progression that sounds like your basic love ballad until you give the lyrics a second listen. Rather than advocating for love, he advocates for letting love die. “Let My Baby Stay,” a love ballad in the more conventional sense, is about his Canadian girlfriend of five years who is essentially an illegal immigrant in the United States.
One of the highlights from Salad Days is “Passing Out Pieces,” the jazzy, faster-paced single from the album about his sordid past and his relationship with his mom, extremely common themes in his writing. “Chamber of Reflections” spices up the guitar melodies with metallic sounding synths and stronger percussion. A good friend of DeMarco’s, Tyler, The Creator has said the track is his favorite.
If you’re looking to Salad Days for fresh musical innovation and to challenge your perception of the man behind the music, you should keep looking. But if you’re looking for a solid album that’s fun and light, or if you’re looking for something to affirm the inner lazy, apathetic strummer that exists in all of us, Salad Days is the right pick.
The truth is DeMarco is nothing more than an apathetic guitar strummer who sings smoothly of freaking out the neighborhood with his lack of motivation and disappointing his mom with drug addiction and unemployment. But it all makes for great music.
4 out of 5 stars