Mac DeMarco’s new album title, Salad Days, is an apt way to describe the Canadian songwriter’s third exquisite offering. Just like those two little simple words that, when combined, evoke quirkiness and refelction, this new record finds DeMarco serving up his unusual sounds, this time as a lighter dish.
Behind its fresh and sunny façade, Salad Days still has much of that sleazy idiosyncrasy that fans have come to treasure; however, in this new endeavor, DeMarco shows a newfound sense of maturity that makes the album his most relatable to date. While in 2 (Captured Tracks, 2012) he was playing the know-it-all kid, the new record finds him feeling a bit spent from the hassle of growing up. Quite fittingly it all begins with the mood-setter line, “As I’m getting older, chip upon my shoulder/Rolling through life, to roll over and die.” We get it Mac, turning 23 is damn hard.
When played uninterruptedly, the LP unveils a relaxed feeling of reflection via anxious ideas that petty much deal with basic human feelings. During the near-mournful organ chords of Passing Out Pieces, one of the album’s shiniest and most captivating gems, DeMarco croons, “Watching my life, passing right in front of my eyes/Hell of a story, oh is it boring?” It’s an honest sentiment that can leave you pondering, if you stop and think about it. If you don’t, it’s still a helluva good song.
Starting off with its playful title track, Salad Days flows from one mid-tempo song to the next in an untroubled way, showing that behind all the goofiness, onstage antics and apathetic vocals, DeMarco is a skilled songwriter with a crisp aptitude for carefree melodies. Standout tracks include the soulful piece Brother, the synth-driven Chamber Of Reflection, and the catchy and endearing Treat Her Better in which DeMarco advises a presumably abusive boyfriend to stop being a jerk. Admittedly, it’s hard to take heavy-hearted sentiments seriously when they’re coming from a dude who enjoys shoving items up his butt on stage, but hey, we’ve all been young and reckless. Right?
The record ends with the cheerful instrumental piece, Johnny’s Odyssey, followed by a quick farewell message from Mac: “Hi guys, this is Mac, thank you for joining me. See you again soon, bye bye.” Simple and straightforward, just like the album. You can enjoy Salad Days for its unadorned flow and easygoing weirdness, or you can stop, reflect and be moved by its fresh honesty. It’s worthwhile either way.