We last heard from our favourite goof-rocker Mac DeMarco two years ago with the release of the mini-LP Another One and its following demo version. It was back in 2014 however that we last received a proper album offering from the Canadian with the hugely successful Salad Days and it has sure been an eager wait since.
Although not much has changed sonically, This Old Dog delves deeper into the personal life of DeMarco, a man with a reputation for being a somewhat insouciant character. A light is cast towards his family life, with the album revealing a more in-depth exploration of his feelings towards his father, which weaves the destination of this release.
‘My Old Man’ is intimate yet animated, a song with reflective lyrics about his father, “It looks like I’m seeing more of my old man in me”, but holds a misleading nonchalant nostalgia that doesn’t alienate the listener in the tale. ‘This Old Dog’ also carries on this pondering train of thought, a calming combination of introspective vocals and compassionate guitar melodies that paint the picture of a matured DeMarco.
‘Baby You’re Out’ picks up the albums speed with a lively country twang lingering in the background, and this makes a reappearance in ‘A Wolf Who Wears Sheeps Clothes’ too, giving the album a rustic charm which is often associated with DeMarco’s work. ‘Still Beating’ pitches a memorable and bewitching track, where we hear DeMarco croon heartfelt lyrics such as “Honey my heart still beats for you even though you don’t feel it”. Short but sweet ‘Sister’ also shouldn’t be overlooked, a warm sibling tribute that effortlessly slots in. ‘On The Level’ feels a little like a Tame Impala track, swirling with liquid synths, offering a rest-bite from the extensively personal set of songs. Concluding track ‘Watching Him Fade Away’ is a short yet emotionally heavy sign-off which hints that DeMarco has began coming to terms with his unstable paternal relationship.
For people who don’t know what Mac DeMarco is about, the contrast in his work and his lifestyle can be a confusing picture. With an easygoing attitude to life, the deeper message of this frankly exquisite album can seem a million miles away from what you may expect on appearances alone.
What This Old Dog continues to showcase is the deconstruction of DeMarco’s seemingly slack personal life. It is another mellow masterpiece, from the DIY musician who genuinely doesn’t seem to care about fame or money but solely about the music and platform of expression it offers.