From his gap-tooth grin to his recently released game ‘SQUISH ‘EM’ - wherein the aim of the game is to kill cockroaches by well, squishing them with a cigarette brand of your choice - noted larrikin Mac DeMarco inhabits the stoner/slacker trope comfortably, except when he doesn’t. Sophomore albums are too often touted as ‘coming of age’ narratives, but DeMarco makes it hard not to draw your own conclusions when the first lines on the album Salad Days are ‘as I’m getting older / chip up on my shoulder / rolling through life / to roll over and die’. The twenty-something angst gathers momentum from there, although as always, DeMarco refrains from taking himself too seriously.
In Salad Days, it feels as though DeMarco is addressing a series of man-children who may or may not be himself. The tenderly mocking ‘Blue Boy’, which sounds a little like John Lennon’s ‘Beautiful Boy’ revised for a hip young thing, addresses the painful self-consciousness of youth, while the smoother groove ‘Brother’ pays homage to eighties emo-pop while cautioning against hurrying towards middle age, and the more melancholy ‘Treat Her Better’ channels some of DeMarco’s own oeuvre, all queasy stoner-blues.
If that sounds like a lot of styles and influences, it is. Part of Mac DeMarco’s style is eclecticism, both in the way that he treats music history as a buffet, and in the instruments used – from slick eighties-style keyboard on ‘Passing Out Pieces’ to what could be a marimba on deceptively simple love song ‘Let My Baby Stay’. Generally, what holds it all together is DeMarco’s wise-cracking tone – but even that falters while crooning ‘what mom don’t know / has taken its toll on me’. Still, you can bet that Mac won’t be wearing a quivery lip for long, and neither, judging by the consistent and even mature output he seems to be capable of delivering, will his listeners.