Mac DeMarco Keeps Things Light
The prevailing narrative surrounding Mac DeMarco’s last full-length album, 2014’s Salad Days, was that the goofy Canadian slacker had finally decided to grow up. The album ostensibly showed a more polished and thoughtful DeMarco, one qualified to handle his exponentially growing young fanbase and sold-out theater performances (first booked at the Pabst Theater, overwhelming demand pushed DeMarco’s upcoming Milwaukee show to the larger Riverside Theater). But that sentiment was mainly the music press concentrating the microscope too closely on one aspect. Even during his more cavalier days of “Freaking Out the Neighborhood,” there have always been two versions of DeMarco—a 20-something loafer who’s constantly looking to lighten the mood, and a gifted songwriter who approaches his work with great sincerity and care.
DeMarco followed up this summer with a mini-LP called Another One, a low-key, soft rock effort recorded in his newly rented house in Queens, N.Y. The home, which includes contrasting views of the calm waterfront and the chaotic John F. Kennedy Airport, served as a sanctuary for DeMarco. The location certainly lends a laid-back feel to the album, but the low stakes perhaps played a bigger role in the easy-going nature by keeping the pressure firmly off the singer. “I had a nice time writing it,” DeMarco says. “It’s not something I drove myself crazy over—like, ‘How am I going to one-up that last album that I did?’ This time I wasn’t pushing like that at all; it’s like, ‘I’m gonna have fun making a record,’ so I did.”
Seen as a throwaway record to many, the effort seems intent on satiating the unquenchable appetite of DeMarco’s passionate fans that hunger for any new DeMarco artifact, whether it be a series of 7-inchers or a pair of auctioned sneakers. In fact, DeMarco felt such a kinship with those who appreciate his work to this extent that he included his home address at the very end of the album. “Stop on by. I’ll make you a cup of coffee. See ya later,” he closed. Even before the record was released, people were already stopping by to hang out.
Admittedly not expecting such an enormous response, DeMarco still stands by the decision to relinquish his privacy. “I thought it was a cool thing to do for the people that support me and pay my rent,” he says. “I think the problem with it is that the press picked it up. It’s not really the reason I put it on the album at all. These people are really important to me and it’s crazy that they enjoy my music and want to meet me. I feel like I might as well do something like that for them. I don’t regret it at all.”
There’s a weightlessness to DeMarco’s songs that’s hard to describe. The warbled yet lighthearted guitar tones—a DeMarco staple—and his whispered croons just sort of casually float in the air, waiting to be swept away by a passing breeze. That feeling is even more pronounced on Another One, where the mood stays playful and sunny even in the face of some stern ruminations on love (“Picking me up / Just to put me down,” he expressionlessly sings on “Just to Put Me Down;” and “Will she love me again tomorrow / I don’t know, don’t think so,” on “Without Me”).
“I like love songs; I like writing love songs,” DeMarco says. “I feel like I have trouble with it [love] sometimes. I had a personal experience.” He refuses to go into detail (and it’s not difficult to see why, as heartbreak inundates the album). He’d rather talk about his music career—or in this case, lack thereof—like, does he often think about what he’d be doing if he chose a different path? “I do sometimes. I have no clue what I’d be doing. Maybe I’d go to school or maybe I’d learn a trade…maybe I’d kill myself,” DeMarco says with a wry laugh. “It’s hard to say.”
Mac DeMarco headlines the Riverside Theater on Friday, Nov. 6 with openers Alex Calder and The Courtneys at 7 p.m. For tickets, visit etix.com.