With ‘Another One’, Mac DeMarco picks up from where he left off on his 2014 album ‘Salad Days’. The charismatic Canadian singer-songwriter wowed a lot of critics and general listeners on ‘Salad Days’ with his twangy guitar style and an overall eccentricity that matches his real life, quirky persona. Since then, he has continued to surprise and entertain fans with off-kilter live shows and a barbeque instrumental album. And then there’s this, a new release that DeMarco has defined as a ‘mini LP’ – ‘Another One’ is indeed just under twenty-five minutes long, and while DeMarco is no stranger to releasing albums far below average length, there is certainly a lot more intrigue this time around to see if Mac can cook up something good in that short amount of time.
If you follow Mac DeMarco at all, you’d be aware that he had already released a few songs from the album here-and-there before the actual release. Because of this, any anticipation will probably be based around the tracks you hadn’t yet heard, and how well all of these songs would fit together. For the most part, everything is fine; the trademark bubbly guitar hooks dance around, DeMarco’s sleepy vocals tell their story, and a few keyboards are thrown in for a bit more variety. In spite of this, some songs on the album are somewhat unspectacular and hollow. The two best examples might be ‘I’ve Been Waiting for Her’ and the instrumental closer ‘My House by the Water’, which don’t necessarily add anything to the album, and considering the album’s length, these weaker tracks almost subtract from the quality. The lack of real vocal melody on the album almost gets quite repetitive, alongside his notable production style. On previous albums, DeMarco would usually be able to shrug off that samey vibe by showing off how great a songwriter he can be, and he just about manages to do that here.
DeMarco does indeed manage to maintain a lot of personality as a songwriter, and because of that, the album never becomes monotonous. The opener ‘The Way You Love Her’ is a lot of fun, with its ascending guitar lead-line backed up by an enjoyable vocal melody with simplistic lyrics that only really need to be simplistic.
This track is followed by ‘Another One’, which is a really sweet ballad that proves DeMarco is often at his best with more ‘touchy-feely’ songs, and the type of sadness and insecurity on display in this song is a common theme throughout the record; it is basically an album about love, and the many different ways one might react to love.
Instrumentally, there is a decent amount of variety and attention to detail, mainly on the first few tracks. ‘No Other Heart’, boasts a really groovy bassline, slotting itself in nicely with the song’s chirpy guitar chords and sets forth for a great, emotional chorus. Speaking of chords, even in the duller moments, you can tell that DeMarco is allowing himself to grow as a writer, with more-and-more explorative and unconventional chord progressions in his arsenal, an approach that he has been no stranger to in the past, but it gets even more interesting as he does it with a wider variety of instruments.
In most tracks, the vocal delivery is quite vacant, emotively adding to the recurring downtrodden theme, and the emotions that are achieved in the music and the songwriting also successfully add to it. As mentioned, typical jangly guitars and glittering keyboards are present, and as they rest alongside the emotion on display, they will certainly be fulfilling to those who might want to give the album a listen, and certainly to those who are already fans of DeMarco.
In some areas, ‘Another One’ may not be as attention-grabbing as Mac DeMarco’s previous work, but there is still a lot of fun to be had with the ‘mini-LP’. There is plenty of songwriting skill on show, with expressive execution. There is also plenty of charm, and as usual, convention is rarely adhered to
‘Another One’ is out now on Captured Tracks