Mac DeMarco just released his debut 12” recording, Rock And Roll Night Club, earlier this spring. An eccentric but lighthearted collection of lo-fi indie-folk tracks, the record aligns with DeMarco’s youthful spirit in the club, as he possibly downs tequila shots and chases his catch of the night. Having recently turned 22, DeMarco is teetering on adulthood, and you can hear this on his first proper full-length album, 2, as he relays his bittersweet lyrics, painting a portrait of a wandering, chain-smoking soul.
Rock And Roll Night Club didn’t come out that long ago, but DeMarco’s growth is already visible on 2. He explains in an interview with Seagate that the track “I’m A Man” off of the 12″ was about “just [trying] to describe what being a man in my life in Montreal is like.” But “I’m A Man” draws a vague scene of a smoker in jeans who doesn’t have a lot of money, while things seem more thought out on 2‘s “Cooking Up Something Good”: “My brother’s in the valley/Seems he’s got it set/And I’ll be up at midnight/With my cigarette/Oh when life moves this slowly.” DeMarco’s soft wails describe perfectly the dismal life he led in Montreal, one filled with boredom and chain smoking, better illustrating his reasons for leaving.
Furthering evidence of DeMarco’s musical growth is his vocal style on 2. Several songs on Rock And Roll Night Club include the singer lowering his pitch dramatically. It seems like he’s doing it to up the sex-factor of the track, but instead the vocal drop comes off as comical. 2 contains none of his pitch-altering antics, except for an effect at the end of “Ode To Viceroy.” Using only his raw, mellow vocals, DeMarco croons on tracks like “Freaking Out The Neighborhood” and “Robson Girl” with his casual tone. The vocal sounds give the tracks an honest feel, as if DeMarco were trying to connect to the listener on a personal level with his stories. In doing so, the listeners can understand DeMarco and his songs much better in comparison to him hiding behind the auditory macho façade prevalent on Rock And Roll Night Club.
Although there have been many changes to his style, DeMarco has remained faithful to the lo-fi/indie-folk hybrid sound found on his 12” recording. The vocals and guitar still posses an unaltered, organic feel, giving the songs a warm ambiance. But DeMarco emphasized the guitar on the album with a brighter sound, making songs pop. Tracks like “Dreaming” use this upbeat instrumental sound to contrast with DeMarco’s slow, drawn-out vocals, keeping the listener from falling into a lull from his soothing voice.
DeMarco isn’t over his youthful mischief by any means, but he doesn’t sound like a kid on 2. The songs here are too strongly crafted to be mistaken for the work of some teen slacker. He’s growing up, not quite grown up, and his album captures the confusion and drift of that in-between stage.