In 2015, the talent for creating a prolific output of exceptional music is almost a curse. Press people will tell you that there’s a bottleneck of too many artists covered by too few media outlets who always want to talk about something new. Managers will tell you that there’s too much money to be made on the road, so the album cycle goes on and on to support that. Artists may even feel pressured by reviewers and themselves to go into a deep stasis, only to emerge again when they’ve reinvented themselves into a newly revamped and retooled model, as opposed to just capturing time in a bottle and offering more to their catalog. At times, even fans have adopted this rule as well and are almost shocked when their favorite artist is able to release an LP already after two and a half or three years of waiting (let’s call this the MBV-effect). Lucky for us, Mac DeMarco is old school in his approach: when Mac wants to make a record and he has the songs ready, he makes it.
Like the days of Steely Dan, Harry Nilsson or Prince releasing a classic every year (or less) comes Mac DeMarco’s Another One, a Mini-LP announced almost one year to the date of the meteorically successful Salad Days. The album was conceived and recorded entirely by Mac in a short period of time between a relentless tour schedule. At his new place in Far Rockaway, Queens — a neighborhood as east as you can possibly be before hitting Long Island — you can live in relative isolation despite technically still being in New York City. This left Mac with nothing more to do with his down time than to make music. Another One is an eight track release of brand new songs, freshly written for this release and each of which expand the arsenal of Mac’s already impressive catalog.
Centered around a pump-organ riff and lilting vocal melody that is somehow both haunting and warm, “A Heart Like Hers” is a track that shows the maturity of Mac’s progression as songwriter. It’s a little bit more refined, a little bit more sophisticated, but nonetheless still retains the guts and soul of any classic Mac track. Opener “The Way You’d Love Her” has a playful swing to the chords and a guitar solo that wouldn’t be out of place on a mid-period ‘Dead’ LP, Mac’s new favored listening past time. The overall feeling of the LP is lost love, or perhaps love never found, a topic that the world never tires of and one Mac can move through without it being a dour and somber experience. Title track “Another One” and stand out “Without Me” exhibit this bittersweet sensibility in lyrical and musical context, both melancholic and romantic, blurring the line between happy or sad nostalgia. The record leaves you with the same satisfaction as an old Bogart movie: he’s still the hero, but he doesn’t quite get the girl.
It’s odd that despite working at the same pace as artists like Creedence, The Byrds and The Rolling Stones, coupled with an equally unending schedule of touring, press and recording, Mac is still labeled as a slacker. With two full-lengths and two EPs released and hundreds of sold out shows performed in the last several years, a recent late night television debut on Conan following a special guest performance on The Eric Andre Show, it seems, as Mac DeMarco nears his 25th birthday, there’s not a slack bone in the man’s body, besides maybe his a penchant for wearing comfortable clothes. You need comfortable clothes to work this hard anyway. Great singer/songwriters (Elton, Joni, Neil) don’t need to reinvent themselves; they just need to keep going and let the songs out in the world. If you’re like me and don’t think it’s been too soon since Salad Days – and you’re actually about to freak if you don’t hear more — here’s Another One.
Before you ancients out there scoff at the premise of a twenty-something rock-and-roll goofball calling himself an old-
anything, consider this: said perpetrator has spent the better part of his time writing, recording, and releasing an album of his own music pretty much every calendar flip. This Old Dog makes for his fifth in just over half a decade - bringing the total to 3 LPs and 2 EPs....more