Mac Demarco – My Old Man

Mac DeMarco is back with his third album, his first album in three years and his second album after  my personal favorite, Salad Days, which was his last album before he released his first the EP Another one in 2016. DeMarco has grown a lot since his debut Rock and Roll Nightclub in 2011, not just in terms of popularity but also maturity and in his songwriting ability. On his third album on Brooklyn indie label Captured Tracks, DeMarco showcases just that, and with pretty good results. 

The album opens with the track My Old Man, a slow acoustic song following the classic DeMarco verse-chorus-verse-chorus-cuminpantsnostickend recipe. The chorus introduces some nice effect pedal guitar and is all in all a pretty good song. The acoustic guitar is something that suits DeMarco really well and it leaves me wondering why he hasn’t done more songs like this before. Something that’s different though from previous DeMarco is his lyrics, which is not exclusive to this particular track but is noticeable on most tracks on the album. He’s not just writing light hearted love songs anymore! I know that he’s done more introspective stuff before, like on Salad Days Chamber of Reflection, but never with this depth. The whole album, as far as I’ve understood, is dedicated to his father, whom he thought was going to pass away before the album was released. (Turns out he didn’t, which is gre4t news). It also seems like DeMarco did not have the best relationship with his father, which he also talks about in his lyrics, and how he seems to become more and more like him as time goes by. 

DeMarco has not just grown in his ability to write lyrics, his songs are now more complex than ever before and This Old Dog is his most varied album in terms of sound and instrumentation to date. DeMarco experiments freely with drum machines and synthesizers, which results in some of my favorite songs by him so far. For The First Time, the fourth track on the album, is one of them. It has one of his best choruses so far, and ever since I first heard it in an Instagram snippet he posted a few months ago when the album had just been finished, I’ve been hooked. It’s a slow synthesizer heavy track with bittersweet lyrics with minimalistic and small sounding instrumentation, which empathizes the great vocal melody in the hook. 

Just like seeing her, for the first time, again.

It’s pretty beautiful. Other great tracks include title track This Old Dog, which might be the coziest track DeMarco has ever put out, with a great bouncy round synthesizer in the chorus and a minimalistic old ass sounding drum machine pattern, all rolling to a looped nice little acoustic guitar  chord progression. Another favorite is Sister, another acoustic guitar based song. It’s a short track at just a little bit over a minute long but its sweet lyrics and Across The Universe sounding guitar turns it in to something great. 

This Old Dog is Mac DeMarcos most complex and introspective album to date, while still simultaneously obtaining dat DeMarco effortless simple feeling to it. Some fans will miss the more easy going not so depressed DeMarco, a majority of them being the 15 year olds who dress like him and smoke viceroys cigarettes, which also happens to be the majority of his fanbase, but I don’t think Mac really minds at all.

7/10

Father John Misty – Pure Comedy

While I love you honeybear was all about honesty, love and marriage, Pure comedy is a grand statement on society and humanity itself, according to the cynical and funny worldview of J.Tillman. With 13 tracks, including the 13 minute long Leaving LA,  running at a total of 74 minutes, it is also Tillman’s longest record to date. The opening and title track pure comedy, takes us on a grand journey from the birth of humanity to the current state of society, cynically and humorously narrated by Tillman.

The comedy of man starts like this

Our brains are way too big for our mothers’ hips

And so Nature, she divines this alternative

We emerged half-formed and hope that whoever greets us on the other end

Is kind enough to fill us in

And, babies, that’s pretty much how it’s been ever since

Ain’t that some shit. The track does a great job of setting the tone of what’s to come and has one of the best instrumentals on the album. The short crescendo in the middle of the track also has one of Tillman’s best chord progressions to date, topped with screeching anxiety inducing horns. The following track, total entertainment 4ever, is about Tillman’s view on entertainment and how it is fundamentally stupid as a concept. Tillman does receive a lot of criticism from haters calling him a pretentious hipster asshole, and while I definitely can see where they’re coming from, with Tillman himself being an entertainer and all, he comes across as very self aware of this fact himself and goes on to make fun of it during the course of the album. The track is one of the most upbeat and fast on the entire album and also comes with a great music video featuring that guy from the home alone movies with the weird name that I’m not even gonna try spelling out. The next track, Things that would have been helpful to know before the revolution is one of my favorite songs on the album and is about what it would be like if mankind returned to its native state. 

Sometimes I miss the top of the food chain sings Tillman and it works pretty good as a sum up. 

The album is a lot slower and heavier in its tone than his previous work and while some fans might be put off by that, some will like it. That’s how things are sometimes. It’s more cohesive than his previous albums too, with all of the tracks sounding more similar to each other in terms of instrumentation. All in all, I think it’s a great album but it does require more attention from the listener in order to fully enjoy it and appreciate the often complex and witty lyrics.

8/10