Looking back on Mac DeMarco’s previous live shows and interviews its easy to spot his carefree mannerisms. From performing a random Coldplay cover in the middle of a live set to giving hilarious interviews, the 27 year old doesn’t seem like the type to take life too seriously. But with the release of his new album This Old Dog Mac seems to have matured during his time off.
On first impressions from listening to This Old Dog there’s a sense of the somewhat familiar. Mac has clearly found a sound that works for him and he’s stuck with it. Not to say that this is a bad thing, the instrumentals he has produced are more polished and structured than anything he has previously released.
He manages to create some of his best sounding tracks on this record, creating a healthy balance of soft acoustic and smooth 80s inspired grooves that paces well with the structure of the album. The far-out synths, velvety bass lines and dissonant guitars of This Old Dog lay a heady foundation for Mac DeMarco to set a tone of melancholy with his introspective lyrics.
What really sets this record from the rest of his discography are the lyrics on This Old Dog. While Mac’s writing has always been great its never been as well structured throughout an entire album. It has well thought out themes that take in his relationship with his father, his appreciation for his family and friends, and the development of his own self-awareness.
All of this helps to build up to the penultimate song on the album, and arguably one of the best tracks Mac DeMarco has made, Moonlight on the River. It’s a 7-minute epic that begins with glazed-over guitars and a rolling baseline, before steadily building up to an explosion of guitar loops and distorted screams.
The lyrics focus around Macs relationship with his father and the struggle he has trying to understand it. He makes some desolate observations in the track that really cut to the core.
Each half of the album ends with short stripped-down tracks that really help set the ideas behind it. Sister, which features halfway through the record, is a sweet tribute to Mac’s distant sister; while Watching Him Fade Away closes the album with a short meaningful song that brings together all of the ideas Mac is trying get across on the record.
This Old Dog is a well-paced album from start to finish with deep lyrics that show its Mac DeMarco’s best record to-date. It also demonstrates his ability to produce a well thought out, mature record without losing the elements of what make Mac DeMarco great.
Mac DeMarco This Old Dog: 4/5
By Kenji Abe