Mac DeMarco

Salad Days

Catch Mac DeMarco in concert, and you’ll bear witness to a balancing act of unrivaled peculiarity. Scraggly dressed and cigarette in hand, DeMarco will swig, cuss, and wax nonsensical. And just before you chalk him up to a being a complete moron, he’ll bust out a shimmery oddity of a guitar-pop jam, and all the foolishness will be forgotten. Following one particularly rambunctious (and X-rated) showing at last year’s South By Southwest, I likened DeMarco to Jack Johnson — if Jack Johnson drank an entire six-pack and took some Quaaludes before he hopped onstage. On Salad Days, the follow-up to 2012’s breakthrough album 2, the Canadian slacker king gets a bit more refined—and least in the production department. Cleared of the lo-fi fuzz and clutter, DeMarco’s quirky surf guitars are pushed to the forefront; on “Brother,” a schmaltzy hook smartly undercuts the lyrics; for “Let My Baby Stay,” we get tropicália à la Jonathan Richman that shines right down to the caterwauling fade-out. Later, “Passing Out Pieces” features a woozy synth so prominent that its hook nearly knocks the whole song over. All together, these eccentricities act as the perfect foil to DeMarco’s half-lidded speak-sing. They’re also only part of the bizarre mix of sinister, strange, and familiar that makes up DeMarco’s curious genius.

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