Mac DeMarco impresses and evolves with “This Old Dog”

Liam Sweeney

Indie Rock prince Mac DeMarco released the album“This Old Dog” on Friday, May 5. This marks DeMarco’s third full length album and his fifth release if we include his mini-LPs.

DeMarco has amassed quite a large fanbase in his five years as a solo artist, thanks to his unique and laid back sound coupled with his introspective and comedic lyrics. These same fans have been waiting in anticipation for his next release after his mini-LP “Another One” in 2015, which was built on even further by DeMarco’s teasing of the album with various single releases. So does the album live up to the expectations of the fans and the standards DeMarco has set for himself?

Well, the album opens promisingly with the song “My Old Man.” This song has a mostly acoustic arrangement paired with a set of electronic drums that help give the song that chill Mac DeMarco feel. Then DeMarco begins singing in his relaxing voice about how he is slowly growing up to be like his, well old man. With these pieces coming together, this track opens the album on an incredibly strong note.

This is then followed up by the title track “This Old Dog.” It is another acoustic arrangement, it but has more of a traditional Mac DeMarco feel to it than the previous one. The lyrics yet again touch upon the themes of aging, but also the idea of finding love when you are growing old. Although not as strong as the opening track, this still remains a solid addition to the album.

Then the album moves on to one of the more boring tracks of the album, “Baby You’re Out.” This song follows the idea of looking back at the choices you’ve made in life and learning not to regret them. It’s here we start to see some of the album’s themes come to fruition. It a shame this happens on this track, however. Its yet another acoustic arrangement, but instead of sounding unique or at least like Mac DeMarco, it ends up sounding like a poppy Weezer B-Side. This is definitely not the strongest track on the album.

We are then thankfully saved by the next track, “For the First Time.” The song features a distinctively DeMarco synth being backed up by a chilled out bass line and a jazzy chord progression. It provides some much needed fresh air after the poppy slog of “Baby You’re Right.” This track also introduces an expansion on the love theme from “This Old Dog,” as DeMarco sings existentially about a devastating breakup that left him in a state of denial. It is quite a powerful song.

This power is amplified even more by the tracks “One Another” and “Still Beating,” the former being another poppy diversion but executed much better, and the latter being a standard yet strong Mac DeMarco affair. They both expand on the themes of DeMarco’s breakup, with him singing about trying to get over the breakup by seeing it as a good thing in “One Another,” while musing on the fact that he is still in fact madly in love with this girl on “Still Beating.” This transition tugs on the heartstrings and shows DeMarco’s clever use of writing to connect the theme of the album together in one relatable journey.

Then the album takes a short turn with the track “Sister.” It’s a short one minute romp about how DeMarco loves his sister. This track act as more of an interlude that anything else in the grand scheme of the album.

DeMarco promptly comes back on course with the aptly titled song “Dreams from Yesterday,” which kind of steers back to the growing old theme with its subject matter of losing your dreams as you either obtain them or just lose them along the way. This track carries that more jazzy feel like with “For the First Time” but with a more rhythmic pulse to it. It’s a mellow themed song, but it clearly shows off DeMarco’s lyrical chops.