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April 6, 2014 | by  | in Arts Music |
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Mac DeMarco – Salad Days (Review)

4/5 stars

Canadian-born Mac Demarco is a stand-out in the slacker-indie-rock genre, usually overpopulated by Wavves worshippers and FIDLAR fanboys. His first album 2 was an amiable affair, layered with tongue-in-cheek musings about women and cigarettes. Salad Days is an excellent follow-up, with a growing maturity resulting in a tighter, more cohesive album with all the appeal of previous releases.

Demarco’s conceptual approach to this project is well reflected in his lyrics – the biggest improvement in his game. Salad Days is the narrative of the self-aware scallywag who is utterly content with his lot. Mac Demarco is a man who eschews the 9-to-5 grind, where “you’re better off dead” (‘Brother’), in favour of the things “Mom don’t know” (‘Passing out Pieces’).

Despite the “leave me alone, man” vibes throughout every track, Salad Days possesses a remarkable honesty. Constant loitering, partying and experiences have “taken their toll,” a fact Demarco isn’t afraid to chronicle in the memories presented on this album. Underlying all of this is an effective use of humour that ensures the music doesn’t get too dark. ‘Goodbye Weekend’ sums up the intent of this album perfectly: “sometimes rough, but mostly I’m doing fine.”

Sonically, Salad Days isn’t too far removed from the recognisable jangly, reverb-drenched, loafing jaunt from his previous release 2. It’s ultimately very comfortable with itself. But with the maturation of his lyrics also comes a more polished sound. The lead breaks that propelled the melody forward so well on his previous releases is still there, but the backing tracks feel more involved. The use of a synth to lead ‘Chamber of Reflection’ is an appreciated gesture at changing things up, but is an example of an awry experiment in creativity. That said, moments like these bring a nice change of pace from an album that would be almost hyperactive if it wasn’t so grounded in its own nonchalance.

Salad Days is Demarco’s best, most honest work to date. A charmer.

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