Review: Mac Demarco, Another One

Another One charts the gradual maturing of singer-songwriter Mac DeMarco, the success of whose previous three albums have secured a high standing for the 25-year-old in the gargantuan indie-pop-rock universe. Those familiar with Mac may question my choice of the word ‘maturing’. The Canadian, now living in Far Rockaway NY, is a performer whose live shows have involved wild drunkenness, nudity and recently an incident in Santa Barbara where Mac was arrested (at his own show) for clambering the ceiling beams of the venue. Another One comes from the kid that has done all of those things (and bloody-well enjoyed doing them) but also from the man who is able to reflect and acknowledge what really means most to him.

Mac’s sound has always involved a playful morphing of wacky-teen frivolity with a more heartfelt sincerity. This off-kilter blend infuses the love-songs on Another One. He’s the tender misfit that’d tell you he loves you, but only after farting and smirking through a cloud of cigarette smoke. Despite this, he confesses on the mini-LP’s opening track: “Never really got your chance to show her what it really means to love her”. He later wonders why his girl is “Picking me up, just to put me down”. He even tells himself to “Never believe in a heart like hers”. It is an album of confessions and confusions, with Mac beating up against and confronting his love’s lame troubles.

Another One is tender and personal, and a little bleaker than his previous albums. It is an intimate dispatch – a ‘mini-LP’ of only eight songs, six of which run under three minutes long. With this effort at micro-management comes a shift toward a kind of confined sonic brooding. There is a consistently meek and sombre instrumental tone: languorous dream-funk beats, calmly ascending chord progressions, and solemn, understated vocals. The occasional expressions of positivity feel like jarring surprises amidst the puddles of uncertainty. Yet it’s tough to hold back the odd smirk at his cheeky ironic efforts (for the most glaring, and unsubtle, look no further than the album cover and the positioning of his keychain).

Mac has matured in a sense – now his love songs are devoted to real people, rather than cigarette brands – but he still revels in the odd tongue-in-cheek jibe. His unique badass-cum-sadass persona isn’t crying for help. As confirmed by the surprise at the end of the album, he just wants to snug up and chat about his thoughts.