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Step Right Up: Mac Demarco

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The Brooklyn-based label Captured Tracks has struck gold yet again. Earlier this year, DIIV’s ‘Oshin’ provided a dream-pop gem full of atmospheric soundscapes, hypnotic rhythms and intricate melodies. Since then, artists such as Heavenly Beat, Dignan Porch and Holograms have created a stir but nothing quite so much as the label’s latest release from 22 year-old Mac Demarco. The singer, songwriter and producer has created a classic in the shape of his debut album, ‘2’.

Words: Mark Carry, Illustration: Craig Carry

During the spring of 2012, Demarco released his debut ‘Rock And Roll Night Club’ 12″ that showcased his genius of creating heartfelt rock ‘n’ roll in the vein of Jonathan Richman. He was 21 years old then. His first full-length has since arrived with ‘2’, turning 22 in the meantime. The Montrealer’s debut record is a cohesive body of work and what immediately strikes you is the music’s organic quality and directness of the songs. ‘2’ is an album alive with the rock ‘n’ roll spirit of Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers. The lo-fi indie brilliance of Pavement can be heard throughout and Demarco’s vocals shares similarities with Stephen Malkmus. This is obviously a good thing! The wit and humour in many of Demarco’s lyrics reminds me of Jeffery Lewis and Jonathan Richman. Importantly, the songs also very much belong in a unique world only Marc Demarco could create. There is an emotional depth to the songs too. The ballads ‘My Kind Of Woman’ and ‘Still Together’ occupy the songwriting stratosphere of The Beatles and Dylan. Demarco is a unique talent that is already delivering utterly compelling indie-pop masterworks so early into his career. Undoubtedly, a star is born.

Album opener ‘Cooking Up Something Good’ begins with a seductive doo-wop rhythm and infectious guitars. The bassline provides glorious funk to the doo-wop guitar. The song’s chorus is sung lazily by Demarco; “Oh, life moves this slowly/Just try and let it go” that is awashed with warmth of psychedelica. On the song’s verses you are given an insight into the Demarco household; “Mama’s in the kitchen, Daddy’s in the sofa.” Mr Demarco is certainly cooking up something damn good. ‘Dreaming’ is sublime. A heartfelt pop gem. The song could easily be taken from Real Estate’s classic ‘Days’ album. A feeling of nostalgia is etched in the song’s lyrics. Demarco sings “Someday I’ll find her..Maybe she’s best in dreams” on the song’s verse. The chorus refrain of “Dreaming” is utterly beautiful, sharing the lazy feel of ‘I’m Only Sleeping’ by The Beatles. The tempo is increased on the following ‘Freaking Out The Neighbourhood’. The glorious guitar licks conjure up magical sounds only Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti could create. A stone-cold classic in the waiting. The song radiates 60’s sunshine pop. The heavenly lead guitar notes are reminiscent of George Harrison. The backing harmonies blend superbly with Demarco’s vocals. The instrumentation is immaculate, where layers of beautiful clean tones and heavy reverb pour from the speakers. Think Ariel Pink jamming with The Beatles-it’s sensational!

‘Annie’ has got soul. ‘Annie’ has also got funk. I get transported back to ‘Inspiration Information’ by Shuggie Otis, listening to the glorious rhythms. The hazy vocals echo Stephen Malkmus. The opening lyrics on ‘Viceroy’ sets the feel; “Viceroy, try to let the sun in and open up my eyes.” The 70’s sound of the lead guitar is woven throughout the dreamy lo-fi haze of ‘Slanted & Enchanted’ era Pavement. ‘The Stars Keep On Calling My Name’ is a torchlight ballad to take all your troubles and worries away. “Honey, the stars keep calling my name/But don’t worry I’ve told you again and again/When I’m down you’re always the first on my mind” is wrapped in beauty. I love the openness and honesty to the song’s lyrics. ‘My Kind Of Woman’ is one of the album’s highlights. Demarco’s clear baritone on the track is similar to Damon Albarn. The drifting feel of the music echoes the “falling apart” lyric. The music has that late-night feel. The rise on the song’s chorus is breathtaking; “You’re my, my kind of woman” is sung over crystalized guitar tones. For me, the feel and heart of the song is akin to Bob Dylan’s ‘Just Like A Woman’.

The instrumental ‘Boe Zaah’ gives a new space and dimension to the album. Beautiful reverb guitar slides over a slow acoustic guitar groove. The sounds of Fleetwood Mac is dotted in its spaced out landscape of sound. ‘Sherrill’ has an infectious guitar lick of a late-night blues feel. “If you go, don’t cry/I’ll be right there at your side/Sherrill” is sung delicately on the chorus. Album closer ‘Still Together’ eptiomises Mac Demarco’s undeniable genius. Armed with just an acoustic guitar, Demarco is capable of delivering an achingly beautiful ballad. The sparse feel is a welcome contrast to the previous full band based songs. The song’s intimacy recalls Conor Oberst. Demarco’s falsetto of “together” creates sparks of magic. The opening lyrics are sung over a simple and tender acoustic guitar; “In time she’ll see/that her and me/we’re meant to be together/And time will pass/It may go fast/But we’ll still be together.” The falsetto fades into the night’s air and ‘2’ is brought to a close. A spoken word segment heard during the album sums it all up: “There really is nothing quite like him.”

‘2’ is out now on Captured Tracks.

Written by admin

November 14, 2012 at 1:49 pm


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