Mac DeMarco - Salad Days
Released April 1, 2014
By Brendan Tuytel
If Mac DeMarco cared about anything at all he probably would have had an existential crisis by now. Well, that’s kind of a lie. If Salad Days’s lyrics are any indication DeMarco cares about his girlfriend, his vices, and getting older. However, it’s easy to let DeMarco’s laid back attitude lull you into this false perception that he simply doesn’t give a shit. Finding sudden success following 2, DeMarco has gone from being a nobody to someone who doesn’t just face expectations, but faces lofty ones. You’d expect things to be different given how much things have changed for him, but they aren't, and it’s marvelous. The songs are still reminiscent of warped tapes from the ‘70s, a sound that works when paired with DeMarco's soothing vocals. You can practically smell the cigarettes burning, see the wallpaper fading, and feel the five o’clock shadow through the speakers as he croons his way through love song after love song, lulling you into a haze. It’s a unique sensation that only DeMarco has truly mastered thus far, and Salad Days only steps closer to perfecting it.
What Salad Days does best is remain content in its simplicity. Nothing is overstated; everything is grounded. In working within his constraints, nothing is ever really a failure. The 11 tracks only take around 35 minutes to get through, but it’s impossible to not let the music calm you down and wash away the external world. In listening to each track, I felt like DeMarco was offering the allures of a carefree world. When he says “Take it slowly, brother/Let it go now, brother” on Brother, he’s reminiscent of the serpent in the garden. However, instead of offering you an apple of knowledge, a scraggly arm extends outwards with a box of cigarettes, easing you into a sublime, ethereal comfort.
At times it does feel like a dichotomy pops up. All those new expectations find ways to come up, but they don’t play an overly pervasive role. Even when lyrics edge away from laid back, the music has just enough whimsy and charm to keep you disarmed. Salad Days, as a piece of art, would be out of place at the Louvre, but is perfect for a living room wall. There isn’t a political statement, an overarching theme or story, it’s just good every day music. In a society where we go back and forth from praising to condemning things for being overly artsy, DeMarco finds balance. So take half an hour out of your day, put on Salad Days and forget about death, taxes, and other unpleasant events. Instead, spend your time enjoying an album put together in a stuffy Brooklyn bedroom by an unexpected, chain-smoking jester.