The Mac Demarcult seems to just grow and grow each year—and for good reason. He really hasn’t released a bad record, and the new mini-LP, Another One, is another solid entry into an esteemed and well-loved catalog. Central to his success is the contrast between his personality and the music he creates. He’s a self-aware jokester in interviews and a sincere songbird whenever he’s playing a guitar. In other words, he’s a 2015 human whose music grasps for something beyond the irony of our age.
The one concern anyone is more than justified in having with this new effort is the same that’s existed since he followed up Rock and Roll Night Club with 2. Namely, he’s got a very identifiable sound which he doesn’t seem to have any desire to change up. The dreamy guitars and lullaby melodies are the same here as they have been since day one. He’s still a young artist though, and the sound is so true to himself that it’s hard to complain. Demarco may not be a constant innovator, but hardly anyone is, and his ability to repeat with originality is commendable.
Not to mention he’s just so damned good at what he does. “The Way You’d Love Her” opens the record as a simple love song with a bouncy guitar solo and the same template is used for about half the other tracks. The others are lilting, keyboard-centric ballads teetering on the edge of heartbreak. Writing breakup ballads and sprightly songs about romance is actually a pretty risky move. It’s been done over and over and cliche is waiting just around the corner. But at no point throughout the whole outing does he lose out on poignancy because of his emphasis on simplicity. As long as distinct voice meets the tried-and-true, there’s always the possibility of great material, and it’s a possibility actualized as much here as on any of his more official records.
Even songs which seem at first like throwaways take turns which end up redeeming their back-to-basics structure. The lead riff that kicks in on the back end of “Just to Put Me Down” is the main case in point. There’s scarcely a song within his wheelhouse which doesn’t have some trick up its sleeve, and the best ones are those which seem like the best magic show you’ve ever seen. “I’ve Been Waiting for Her” takes a rather normal chord progression and subject matter to the cosmos and back because Demarco’s got the wizardry to do it. Is it easy to explain why his songs sound so catchy and original despite their consistency of form and style? Not really, but that’s part of the fun.
There are ways in which Demarco’s smirking, benevolent sarcasm can sneak its way into his otherwise clear-eyed and beaming music. Naming this Another One is a pretty good example. The title speaks to the mechanical ways in which the music industry operates. The constant quest for a palatable form of originality is the game pop music plays. You need to be unique, and yet you need to sell records in droves to stay alive. Mac Demarco has always been himself, and yet he just keeps getting more popular. This is just “another one” and so is every record that comes out this year. Whether you like it or not is up to you. Luckily, it’s pretty easy to.