Mac DeMarco - Here Comes the Cowboy

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Mac DeMarco has had a tremendously successful decade. Since he released his first album of breezy, slacker rock in 2012, DeMarco has grown to become one of the most beloved and sought after singer-songwriters in the indie blogosphere. His whimsical, jangly, and economical tunes were well arranged, balancing the perfect blend of quirkiness and earnestness. Being an approachable prankster with a gift for top-notch songwriting earned him his position as a consistent main stage festival draw. While known for not taking himself too seriously, he has always had a melancholic edge to him. So when he surprised listeners in 2017 with This Old Dog, a much more mature and introspective album, it made sense that it resonated with audiences so strongly.

Mac DeMarco on his follow up, Here Comes the Cowboy, continues with his newfound seriousness and personal lyrics. But where This Old Dog was lush and intricately crafted, this new album feels rushed and underdeveloped. This Old Dog was loaded with Mac’s signature charisma; Here Comes the Cowboy drags on with minimal vibrancy. He has always leaned towards stripped back arrangements, but the extreme sparseness here lends to too many lackluster efforts.

There are decent moments on the record, although they lose their impact nested between much weaker songs. “Nobody,” the lead single, is a compelling reflection on Mac DeMarco’s sudden fame and the feelings of isolation he feels as a result. With its slow burning melancholy, it trots along in vintage Mac DeMarco style. “All of Our Yesterdays” is a hazy, lightweight rumination on the “golden days” myth, Mac urges himself and anyone listening to look towards the joys of today and tomorrow.

Any highlights this album holds, however, are overshadowed by some of Mac DeMarco’s least exciting songwriting to date. The lazy funk of “Choo Choo” is an awkward attempt to instill some comedy into the album, and the joke isn’t even funny. The title track and album opener repeats the same line throughout its entirety, carried along by some awfully derivative country strumming. “Preoccupations” with its repetitive strums and tiresome vocal deliveries is one of many examples of this record’s redundancies.

DeMarco’s finest albums were anchored by its neighborhood slacker relatability. Mac is the chain smoking goofball you throw pints back with, yet he simultaneously holds a surprising amount of depth and earnestness. Mac with this latest misstep has abandoned all that made him so interesting in the first place. Here Comes the Cowboy  is  a lifeless listen, and it doesn’t sound like Mac is having much fun either.

Grade: D+

Matt Marciniec