Mac Demarco has to have some of the most obscene stage antics in indie rock. When he’s not smoking Viceroy cigarettes or crafting his self-coined “Jizz Jazz” in his Brooklyn apartment, he’s apparently pretty fond of exposing himself to his fan base-in the most grotesque of fashions. His track “Freaking out the Neighborhood” on 2012’s “2” was the apology to his mother after a video of himself, naked onstage, sodomizing himself with a drumstick, surfaced on Youtube.
In contrast to his exhibitionist tendencies, Demarco is generally a mellow man of mellow music. On his most recent release, we find him quite fittingly in the middle of his creative “Salad Days” – he’s certainly come a long way since his rambling lo-fi debut “Rock and Roll Night Club.” The album furthers the refinement of his signature lackadaisical indie rock that he started on “2.” “Salad Days” is far more deliberate, more developed and more mature than any of Demarco’s previous efforts – the only thing that’s lazy here is the vibe.
It’s a summery haze of an album: a soundtrack that watches heat radiate off of suburban pavement and revels in youth. “Salad Days” is 5:30 in the afternoon on a summer day, the sun is lowering, and you realize that you haven’t done anything yet – but neither has Demarco. He’s perfectly content to “act his age and try another year,” as he sings on the record’s title track.
The tracks are thematically simple: songs like “Let Her Go” and “Treat Her Better” sound like early ‘60s pop spliced with late ‘60s psychedelia, delivered with Morrissey-like apathy. Motifs are built with circular bass lines that pulsate under the washed-out twang of a guitar that Demarco has claimed he bought for thirty dollars – his first, and apparently only. Riffs that at first sound tuneless and nonsensical only grow in brilliance and infectiousness with each listen.
Although he claims he doesn’t use illicit substances, Demarco, who has apparently been hanging around fellow sober-weirdo-delinquent Tyler, the Creator, is a master of the drug rock sound. Tracks like “Chamber of Reflection” are bonafide Pink Floyd acid trips. “Chamber” is just as psychedelic as its name suggests – organs drone constantly, as does Demarco: “alone again, alone again, alone again.”
“Salad days” is still homegrown, it’s still Demarco, but he’s at his most honest: grappling with the slipping days of his youth. There’s no playing around, nothing’s here for shock, and the resulting record should be considered one of the best chill-out records of the year. Demarco has matured, and this time, he doesn’t have to take his pants off to prove it to us.
Fraumeni is a member of
the class of 2017.