As we edge closer to the summer months, saying goodbye to the cold and winter-esque months 2017 has shown us so far, Canada's most lax singer-songwriter Mac De Marco returns with a new album, “This Old Dog”, bringing a new dimension to his twangy, wistful and heartfelt style.
It was this style that threw Mac in front of the world's eye with his 2014 sophomore album, 'Salad Days'. It was the casual delivery of songs like “Let My Baby Stay” that on the surface were fun and lo-fi, but yet had a great sense of yearning about them that really caught the attention of many. In the gap between Salad Days and the latest full length effort, we saw Mac release a mini-album of spontaneously crafted love songs in 2015 called “Another One” which brought the 70's style synths and organ sounds present on Salad Days to the forefront of the music.
From the opening track of the album, there was an immediate difference in any of Mac's previous releases. “My Old Dog” has these beautifully strummed open chords that meander and gracefully glide the whole way through. Instead of a drum kit, we are given subtle bouncing midi drums that really meld well with the huge 70's folk influence of the guitar playing.
Mac brings us a cleaner sound this time. Known for the lo-fi nature of his albums, and while still self-recorded and in no way hugely polished, “This Old Dog” sees the production shine through with the instruments recorded cleanly and the mix fantastic. This is particularly evident on “A Wolf Who Wears Sheeps Clothes” with punchy but modest drums pulsing along, and the smoothest sounding guitar melody I've ever heard on a Mac De Marco album, this track is definitely one of my favourites.
Lyrically throughout the album we also see a different side of Mac, with his most abruptly sad songs to date. “Watching Him Fade Away” lacks the wit and self-deprecating humour that made dark topics seem light, but instead brings an emotional power that makes this track feel like a real, upfront confrontation with the loss of a friendship. The same goes for the short but poignant “Sister” with it's guitar that solemnly bounces as mac appears to open up, even if just for a brief moment, about his relationship with his sister.
This only song I feels lags behind on this album is “For The First Time” which to me feels quite oddly out of place on the album with its strong shrill synth, calling back to the older sound of Salad Days, it's a solid track but not the best on the album.
However, In what is easily his most concise piece of work so far, with each track smoothly flowing into one another, “This Old Dog” is Mac De Marco's strongest release yet,It shows a true maturation from his last release and shows a huge step up in terms of songwriting and production, cementing his position as the worlds favourite slacker indie rocker.