By Ryan Sterling
Mac DeMarco, psychedelic indie singer/songwriter and self-described “ape dinky”, released his third full length album “This Old Dog” on May 5th, 2017. The 42-minute album spans across 13 songs, and sonically reaches a much more somber and melancholy mood than ever heard previously on a DeMarco project. While slow rhythms, dark lyrics, and droning synths have always been parts of Mac’s music, these are key elements to the entire album, and there is a clear lacking of lighter, fast-pace songs like “Let Her Go” off of ‘Salad Days’ or, “Cooking Up Something Good” off of his debut album ‘2.’
This gloomy theme starts off right away with “My Old Man” and “This Old Dog”, where Mac softly sings over slowly paced acoustic guitars and light background synths. While these are far from the best songs on the album, they set the idea that Mac DeMarco had for the album. Unfortunately, some of the sounds that DeMarco introduced to display this idea are quickly played out, and make a good portion of the middle of the album almost completely forgettable. Honestly, at times I can only tell a few of the songs apart by the couple of seconds of silence between switching from track to track. The only redeeming quality to this chunk of the album is the synth-heavy song “For the First Time,” as the smooth base line and the keyboard in the background clearly set it apart from the various songs around it.
The album does save itself on its last leg, with the introduction of some more interesting ideas shining through in Mac’s songwriting process, while still maintaining the moody direction of the album. This can be heard in songs like “One More Love Song” and “On the Level.” And it wouldn’t be a Mac DeMarco album without at least one song featuring a wobbly electric guitar, which shows up on the second to last song “Moonlight on the River.”
The only other negative for the album is a few glaringly obvious bad sonic decisions. I have no idea how these decisions got past Mac’s hazy drawing board, like the mismatch of a harmonica and a John Mayer-esque guitar tone in “A Wolf Who Wears Sheep Clothes,” or the utterly stupid beeping in the background of “Baby You’re Out” that’s so distractingly out of place it makes it impossible to listen to any other aspect of the song.
Overall, the album has lots of great tracks, filled with nice sounds from Mac DeMarco’s usual kit of acoustic guitars, warbly synths and electric guitars, and simple yet pleasing drums and bass lines. However, there are multiple tracks that should’ve been worked on a bit before releasing the album, as they either feel unfinished creatively or just plain boring.
For the First Time
One More Love Song
Moonlight on the River