Mac DeMarco - Salad Days

Mac DeMarco delivers his signature lovable slacker aesthetic with his third album Salad Days.

Additional Info

8.6

ALBUM: Salad Days

ARTIST: Mac DeMarco

2014

Alternative

Increasing in popularity with his charming gap tooth smile and a lingering stench of insouciance, Mac DeMarco is not an artist who is quite frankly concerned about chart topping or making an album concerning the thoughts of indie pop perfection. DeMarco is an artist trying to make his music: authentic Mac DeMarco tunes. And this is why people love him. This is why the crowds at his concerts are expanding and more of the public is becoming interested. With his third album, Salad Days, Mac DeMarco has compiled a list of songs that fit his comical lethargic vibes. The sound still truly speaks to his signature aesthetic with wonky guitar bits and dizzying synth parts, but also the content is more personal. The audience is starting to see views of DeMarco that are new and individual, only adding to the appeal of his new album as the listener feels like he or she is experiencing something that was not written for their ear, yet is accessible simultaneously.

There are no ironic ballads about cigarettes on Salad Days, but songs that are homier. Songs about DeMarco’s girlfriend and his fear of getting old and growing up. Songs about treating a girl right. Songs about losing a part of yourself. Songs about freemasonry. There is a plethora of topics that Mac covers that is not only understandable and honest, but also simplistically sage. They are songs written about things that every person should relate to in a way that either (1) they have thought about or (2) is a common sensical notion that society should live by. The lyrics are pretty basic and blunt, but that is what makes them sort of brilliant. Mac DeMarco is not precisely a poet, but he’s an honest man who makes music that is easy to listen to. “Blue Boy” and “Salad Days” are tracks that almost every working American who has aged can understand. The contrast of the life struggle and anxious thoughts in these tracks against DeMarco’s soft and airy production is awesome too. One does not realize the honesty that he has put into the track until one reads the lyrics. Mac DeMarco creates this juxtaposition of insecure maturities against peculiar psychedelic and dreamy production. It is as if they are subliminal messages, but they’re not: his songs are created not to cause anxiety or for us to feel sympathy for him, his tunes are written for himself. This is an admirable aspect of Salad Days.

Some interesting aspects to look for in the album are tracks such as “Let My Baby Stay,” and “Chamber of Reflection.” The former is a beautiful song written for DeMarco’s longtime girlfriend McNally. It oozes pathos and romanticism but not to a cliché or cheesy realm. The innocent track lets the audience see Mac’s softer side and is most likely in regards to McNally’s visa stresses. The couple is originally from Canada and experienced international troubles this past year. Referencing the lyrics, “please don’t take my baby away, let my baby stay,” is not only a very real fear of deportation, but also a romantic coo for troubled love. “Chamber of Reflection,” however, is a bit of the opposite as it discusses a piece of ritual from freemasonry. It is when one is placed in a room before initiation to reflect on the man that he was and look forward to renewal. It is a peculiar topic to pinpoint, but even if one was unaware of the songs origin, the track is also an applicable song about understanding oneself. Mac DeMarco has the intriguing ability of crafting music that has such a specific or personal origin, with no intention for other than him that ends up to be enjoyable and accessible.

Mac DeMarco exposes himself in a new light on this album, but with the same production aesthetic that is, most of the time, a brilliant combination. DeMarco portrays himself as just an average guy with a guitar and a cigarette making music: simplicity that makes chill and indisputably agreeable vibes.

“Perfectionist? That’s something I am not. Fuck that.”

1. Salad Days
The lackadaisical La La Las and whimsical tone of Mac Demarco could make one drift off into a daze, daydreaming about hot summer days and dirty ashtrays. But be careful not to get too lost in the saggy guitar melody and swanky percussion, Demarco moans about existential and ephemeral possibilities of life with a comic twist opening with the lines, “As I’m getting older, chip upon my shoulder/ rolling through this life to rollover and die.” The lyrics are harsh and grim at a glance, but the deliverance of Demarco is flawlessly effortless that camouflages the despair filled content. The harmonic tones coupled with the mama references make the song childish and innocent thus taking away from the heaviness of lines, “Always feeling tired, smiling when required/ write another year off and kindly resign.” The title track is the perfect introductive handshake to the philosophically lethargic conversation that will follow.8.5
2. Blue Boy
A therapeutic pop song discussing mellowing out and stop acting so tough and worrying about the insecurities conducted by the world. The slacker aesthetic put forth by DeMarco is charming and soothing with the wavy and dreamy guitar melody coupled with delicate percussion. “Blue boy, older than the world knows/ Honey, that’s the way that life goes/ No use acting so tough/ Come down, Sweetheart, grow up,” coos DeMarco, bordering on creepy and condescending with the pet names, but just comforting enough that the supportive advice from DeMarco is completely acceptable.7.0
3. Brother
Life’s a bitch. Then you die. This motto has been whined about over and over leaving the phrase depressing and overworked. Overworking. This is exactly what DeMarco sings about in his trippy and soulful ballad: don’t stop enjoying your life just because you have to live. “You’re better off dead, when your minds been set from nine until five/ How could it be true, well it’s happened to you, so take my advice,” DeMarco justifies the slacker and daydreamer mentality by expressing that we have to appreciate the life we have not just worry about making a living. Written like a letter to a loved one or an anthem for society, the song is calm and lazy except for the high shrills of the guitar during the chorus. As simple and overdone as one might think DeMarco’s message is, clearly America does not understand the meaning of vacation and enjoyment with the epidemic of workaholics and college “preparation” from the age of two. The track closes out on trippy combusting measures that reflect the sound of Tame Impala. The song is real and true, as DeMarco leaves his words of wisdom to resonate amongst the hollow sounding melodies.8.0
4. Let Her Go
Probably one of the simplest songs about love, which makes it a great one. Mac DeMarco’s honestly in his lyrics on this one is flawless and makes the perfect optimistic break-up song ever written. Why hold on to somebody that you don’t love anymore? That’s right. You Don’t. You let them go, just as DeMarco sings. The chipper guitar chimes with the warped undertones, making the song rather happy along with the airy vocals on the chorus. The metaphor of the flower may be a little kitschy, “Love just like a flower, but when the flower dies, you’ve got to say goodbye and let her go,” but it’s carried through to the end in a amiable indie pop manner. DeMarco lays it plain and simple. His voice is reminiscent of John Lennon with velvety vocals that ring with sincerity. This track strays from DeMarco's original style of singing meaningless songs because of its light-hearted tone. However, the lazy and careless vibes are still in place, leaving DeMarco with a pretty pop track.7.5
5. Goodbye Weekend
The track opens with irregular pitch combinations that make the song sound out of tune, but its quirky nature is a signature style of Mac and something that will undeniably grab the listener’s attention. The vocals are easy and care-free with lyrics that simply have a “don’t give a fuck” attitude as DeMarco sings of people minding their own goddamn business with the lyrics, “So don’t go telling this boy how this boy should be leaving his own life/ sometimes rough but generally speaking I’m fine/ if you don’t agree with the things that go on in my life/ well honey that’s fine there’s no itch in wasting your time.” A pattern of subtle condescension or passive aggressiveness is starting to expose itself in Mac’s lyrics as the content starts to get personal. The contrast of content tone versus the actual vocal tone is intriguing and almost comical, as nothing phases the slacker approach. The solo on this track is an admirable section of the track that leads to head bobs and chill vibes, reminiscing about the calm times like the sixties.7.5
6. Let My Baby Stay
The second song on Salad Days that is devoted, and beautifully, to DeMarco’s longtime girlfriend: it is fragile and simply profound love ballad. It is one of Mac DeMarco’s out of character songs where the only humor hidden in it is possibly the point where he refers to himself as “Macky.” The song contains a simple chord progression and percussion- only consisting of subtly maracas and wooden cowbell- and it does the track justice with the genuine and simple nature of pure emotion. Here we see Mac DeMarco stripped naked, but with a different connotation: he’s in love. It almost sounds like the lullaby “My Little Sunshine,” as DeMarco begs, “Please don’t take my love away/ let my baby stay, let my baby stay/ and where I would be feeling lonely/ separated from my one and only.” A song of this kind seems at first out of DeMarco’s realm, but no evidence leads us to interpret that he is at all out of his comfort zone, producing a purely innocent and serene pop song.8.5
7. Passing Out Pieces
The Tame Impala sounding synths are eerie and for a minute one might question if they somehow got lost amongst a creepy carnival. The song’s melodies and combination of instruments- from the signature lazy guitar to the fat saxophone- are a result of some of the best production on the album. It’s a reflective track that exposes how the unknown and the shameful experiences of one’s life can catch up and bite one in the ass. “What mom doesn’t know has taken its toll on me,” DeMarco repeats in the chorus as a humorous way to understand that the dumb shit in life our parents try to protect from can’t be escapable forever. Pain is inevitable and life creeps up on us. DeMarco realizes that humans are exploitable, people take advantage, life sometimes has no mercy: “I’m passing out pieces of me, don’t you know nothing comes free?” The sophistication and genuineness DeMarco delivers is something that cannot be exhausted, even on repeat for a few dozen times.9.0
8. Treat Her Better
It’s a song about treating a girl right and about “treating a girl better.” The song is exactly as it sounds. The sliding and slurring of guitar riffs add a groovy and wistful atmosphere. DeMarco’s lyrics are witty, not threatening, as he delivers them in a bouncy style. 7.0
9. Chamber of Reflection
This slow tempered track is not seductive but about the Freemason’s. Right on. “Spend some time away/ getting ready for the day/ you’re born again/ spend some time alone/ understand that you’ll soon run again with better men,” DeMarco sings about the “Chamber of Reflection,” which is a place where one goes and reflects about their life before being inducted into freemasonry. The synths are sharp and electrified, which give a certain life to the lagging beat. It’s a dizzying song, but hypnotic in all its greatness.8.5
10. Go Easy
The same slackadaisical aesthetic is enforced on this track with the dizzying guitar bits that overlay each other. It is a little repetitive and falls under a certain category of boring compared to the other tracks. But there is no doubt that one could be content chilling out to this jam thinking about life.7.0
11. Johnny’s Odyssey
Ending Salad Days on the perfect goodbye, the beginning of the track is old school, bringing to mind the likes of The Clash and The Beatles. The track then unexpectedly maneuvers into a psychedelic robotrip of something like MGMT. The baseline is infectious and carries the song. The jaunty guitar bits are disjointed but needed in every bit. The track is an instrumental sweetness that travels through the eardrums with complete satisfaction.9.0
Written by Margaret Farrell
Margaret Farrell is a writer from outside Chicago. She is currently a student at New York University, studying journalism and creative writing.



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