A stellar album.
Label: Captured Tracks
Released: 5th May 2017
Mac DeMarco’s music has always felt more sincere and, well, more normal than his public persona as a goofy party boy that loves nothing more than a drink and a packet of Viceroy brand cigarettes would suggest. ‘This Old Dog’ continues on the path started by previous work ‘2’ and ‘Salad Days’, a mix of dreamy love songs and self-reflective lyrics that see Mac trying to piece together where he is in life and just how the hell he got there.
Title track ‘This Old Dog’ is painfully honest, opening with the lyrics “Sometimes my love may be put on hold / Sometimes my heart may seem awful cold”. Not exactly what you’d expect from the guy who once got on stage and stuck a drumstick somewhere you wouldn’t normally consider sticking it. Later track ‘Dreams From Yesterday’ continues this theme of self-evaluation, with Mac reflecting “No amount of tears / Can roll back the years / Bring back all your dreams / From yesterday”. Heavy stuff from someone often considered the crown-prince of slackers.
Not to put ‘This Old Dog’ down, it’s a beautifully crafted album, and the prominence given to the synth and acoustic guitar ensures it isn’t just a retread of previous work. The guitar line from 'A Wolf Who Wears Sheep’s Clothes' is sure to worm its way into your head and have you whistling along, and the synth work from 'On The Level' will do the same thing. It’s just important to note that Mac’s always been more contemplative than he seems, especially when the lyrics are given much more prominence than on earlier releases.
Sure, it sounds like a Mac DeMarco record and doesn’t exactly stray too far from the comfort zone established by his previous work, but it’s a stellar album nonetheless. With 'This Old Dog', Mac has chosen to refine the formula that made his first two full-length releases so good, rather than to make a bold stride in a new direction. It might get stale in a few albums time, but right now? It works like a charm. Jake Hawkes