Mac Demarco is the lovable weirdo of indie rock. Since the beginning, which was 2012s Rock and Roll Night Club, Demarco recorded songs that sounded like poorly stored pop songs; tracks on reel-to-reel tapes slowly molding in some nondescript storage unit in Canada. An equal mix of earnest songwriting and underlying seediness. With 2, his second release with Captured Tracks, Demarco’s songwriting started to really shine. He found a real balance between the darker themes and pop hooks. And while the production seemed to improve fidelity-wise, there was still the feeling it was recorded on secondhand tape recorders and out-of-tune guitars.
With each release Mac Demarco prettied up his sound and sweetened the tracks to an almost Jonathan Richman level. But with his newest album, the somewhat disappointing Here Comes The Cowboy, it sounds as if Mac Demarco is at a dead end for song ideas. Where he shines he shines bright, but where he doesn’t it sounds like a guy who’s just noodling on a guitar to pass the time.
Demarco was smart to release “Nobody” as the lead single as it’s a great tune. A mopey little number that sounds like a guy settling into a world he doesn’t quite understand(or care to understand.) A slow motion contemplation on realizing the world you were hanging out in isn’t where you want to be anymore. This is Mac Demarco doing what he does best. “All Of Our Yesterdays” is another warbled country shuffle of a track that fits Demarco’s nicotine-stained crackle of a voice perfectly. There’s a dreamy, melancholy vibe here that you can get lost in for an entire afternoon drive.
“K” is an absolutely gorgeous love song written for Demarco’s longtime partner. When Mac wants to be a sweetheart of a crooner he does it wonderfully. “Heart To Heart” and “Skyless Moon” lock into a warm 70s AM groove that is hard not to fall for. There’s a vibe of an airport lounge singer working his magic with preset songs on a Casio here, and I’m really kind of okay with that.
But elsewhere the songs seem to just meander. “Preoccupied” feels like just that. It’s as if Demarco hit record and began strumming, hoping inspiration would hit(it doesn’t.) Opening title track “Here Comes The Cowboy” is some wonky country riff with Demarco repeating the line “Here Comes The Cowboy” over and over like some lazy mantra. “Choo Choo” sounds like Mac’s attempt at a Lenny Kravitz “Mama Said” moment. While it’s fun, it seems to go a little too long(and it shows up again at the end of the over seven closer “Baby Bye Bye”.)
There’s more of these moments than genuine inspired songwriting, sadly.
I’m not losing faith in Mac Demarco. He’s had a pretty amazing run in his relatively short career. Every great artist has a clunker here and there, and as far as clunkers go Here Comes The Cowboy is just a mild bump in the road.
7.2 out of 10