Review was originally published on uclaradio.com in 2012
Mac DeMarco (previously known under the moniker, Makeout Videotape) is something of an enigma, even to his fans. Wearing a goofy gaze and two-bit smirk, the 22-year- old Canadian singer-songwriter sums up his genre as “jizz jazz” and self-identifies himself as being “a puss at heart.” For his new album, 2, the eccentric multi-instrumentalist carries bittersweet lyrics, spindly guitar hooks and jangly drum patterns into sleazy but dreamy ballads.
In his thrilling first LP, Rock and Roll Night Club, each of the wannabe lady-killer’s songs could have passed as groovy lobby music for a seedy motel. 2 is more toned down in its sexual overtures, and comparatively more sentimental in storytelling and polished in sound. DeMarco drops the low, macho growl of Rock and Roll Night Club to reflect a more boyish and innocent vibe. While not as conceptual or experimental as his previous LP, DeMarco writes a nuanced sequel that could have easily been spun on an eight-track in the late 1970s. Pulling from genres such as lo-fi, country and dream, DeMarco pairs his narratives of being smitten with sultry instrumentals into twangy sex jamz. The album opener, “Cooking Up Something Good,” and the apologetic “Freaking Out the Neighborhood” has DeMarco warbling on top of a bluesy melody that pays tribute to ‘70s soul singer, Darondo. The track “Annie” intersperses pointed guitar riffs and sweet-talking lines like, “Sit down right beside me/ You know when I’m lonely” before falling into an psychedelic swirl of noise.
The lead single, “My Kind of Woman,” is a glittering earscape with DeMarco crooning, “I’m down on my hands and knees/ Show me your world.” Under a lesser storyteller, DeMarco’s romantic pleading and greasy ‘70s disco ball aesthetic would come across as a cheesy shtick (see: The Virgins). But the young musician manages to deconstruct haphazard limericks onpuppy love into garage-laced bedroom pop. DeMarco saves his most sensitive song, “StillTogether,” for last. He lulls, “In time/ She’ll see/ That she and me/ Were meant to be/ Together” before letting the music trail into an intimate recording of him waking up his sleeping girlfriend.
Like the rest of 2, the closing track is fuzzed out, stripped down and a woozy interplay between melancholy and hopefulness. 2 finds the young man maturing since the days of Makeout Videotape and Rock and Roll Night Club. This time around, he’s more personal and disarmed. DeMarco marries the uncertainty of growing up with his natural comedic timing to produce a languid pop album in the vein of slick rock ‘n roll. The album listens like a reel of maudlin snapshots flowing out of his stream of consciousness and each track has him reluctantly inching towards adulthood.
Recommended Tracks: Freaking Out the Neighborhood, The Stars Keep On Calling My Name, My Kind of Woman