Mac DeMarco: ‘This Old Dog’ Album Review

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The Pepperoni Playboy is back with a new full length album, something that fans have been yearning to hear since the release (and subsequent success) of his sophomore release ‘Salad Days’, back in 2014. The slacker-rock sensation has not slowed down however, releasing EP after EP in between albums, including the well-received ‘Another One’ which in its 8-track entirety, felt almost like an album in itself.

Mac DeMarco’s third studio album ‘This Old Dog’ is a dreamy, almost whimsical project that plays to the 27-year-old Canadian’s strengths, whilst displaying a certain sense of musical maturity and balance that has been absent in his previous releases. Carefully crafted and creatively cautious, DeMarco does well to implement new ideas whilst staying true to what has brought him so much success already.

‘This Old Dog’ is a blend of comfy guitar licks and sleepy vocals that don’t stray far from formula, but it’s certainly a step in the right direction. He’s ditched the imposing, dizzy guitar effects for the most part and his song writing is at its impeccable best, having shed some of the lazier rhymes that plagued his previous releases. His sound is certainly stripped back from the whacky, yet wonderful experimentation that personifies both ‘2’ and ‘Salad Days’ and favours a more acoustic, soulful sound which is executed to precision.

It’s an easy criticism of DeMarco to suggest that his work is particularly lazy and seems to the half-thought bumbling of a stoner-rocker, but that is where the beauty of his craft lies. Every song on the album is so beautifully tailored that they seem to just effortlessly fall into place, which is a quality that really shines through on ‘This Old Dog’ and gives the album an element of musical perfection that has gone missing in albums gone by. Each song on the album has such an effortless air to them, ‘A Wolf Who Wears Sheeps Clothes’ being a fine example, with DeMarco moving his way through the song as if it were a backyard jam session. Some fans may argue that his silly, slacker sound is part of his appeal as an artist and for the most part, it very much is, but for DeMarco to release an album that is so expertly sculpted, with every note as precisely placed as they are, it only goes to show how far he has come as a producer.

‘This Old Dog’ is packed with heavy-eyed ballads that induce a dream-like state that only DeMarco himself could achieve and clearly shows a progression of musicianship, but to suggest that the album is a masterpiece is perhaps too generous, despite it being tailored to such meticulous perfection. The album itself is not the innovation that some fans or critics may have hoped for and sticks to the same winning formula that rewarded DeMarco with the honour of jangle-pop prince when he hit the mainstream back in 2012. But for some, myself included – that is all we could have wanted. He hasn’t tried moving into another genre, he hasn’t needlessly attempted to shoe-horn in features that don’t belong, he has kept us sweet with the sound that made him an indie God and has done so effortlessly and in a way that screams ‘that is so Mac DeMarco’.

7/10

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