‘Salad Days’ combines irreverence with distinct maturity

Canadian slacker troubadour Mac Demarco, known for a distinct on-stage demeanor, builds on his persona throughout “Salad Days,” his third album.   (Photo provided by stereogum.com)
Canadian slacker troubadour Mac Demarco, known for a distinct on-stage demeanor, builds on his persona throughout “Salad Days,” his third album. (Photo provided by stereogum.com)

Deemed a habitual jokester by listeners of his first release, the EP “Rock and Roll Night Club,” Mac Demarco completes what has been an evolution with his third album “Salad Days.”

Known for his raunchy on-stage antics, the Canadian-born multi-instrumentalist’s distinct “slacker” style has kept listeners guessing and entertained. “Salad Days” offers a different form of Demarco, matured and well-tempered.

The album begins in usual Demarco style, with a simple rhythm focused on his distinct dreamy guitar style and backing instruments meant to carry the true weight of the songs. With lyrical themes including, “Missing hippy Jon, salad days are gone/Remembering things just to tell ‘em so long,” heard on the track, titled “Salad Days,” Demarco details the transition into true adulthood with the excuse of youth fading away.

The combination of these two sides of Demarco is shown best on the most recent single, “Brother.” The song acts as a plea to Demarco’s “brother,” centering on self-reflection and patience. Despite a lack of lyrics, the song still gives the listener the same comfortable feeling of a classic Demarco song, with a hint of wisdom. The combination of Demarco’s melancholic voice and the psychedelic bridge makes this track one of the standouts of the album.

The halfway point of the album comes with “Goodbye Weekend,” which offers one of the album’s most lasting themes and “Let My Baby Stay,” an enticing song that is undoubtedly catchy. With “Goodbye Weekend,” Demarco furthers the point that his salad days are over, but that he will be living his life on his own terms. Lyrics including, “So don’t go telling me how this boy should be leaving his own life/Sometimes rough but generally speaking I’m fine,” leave the listener with a definite promise of the same old Mac.

Without making a dramatic change in pace or using a skit as Demarco has used in the past, the album takes a turn in a different direction. The second half of the album allows Demarco to show his growth off in every aspect. Demarco’s production, which has improved with each of his major releases, seems to come together at the end of “Salad Days.” The second half features some of the more memorable compositions, including “Passing Out Pieces.” Other standout songs from the second half include “Chamber Of Reflection,” which doesn’t seem like a Mac Demarco song, but manages to include all his best qualities, sparse lyrics put to intricate and hypnotizing melodies. “Go Easy,” the album’s penultimate, somewhat mirrors “Chamber Of Reflection” but in a much more familiar fashion.

Mac Demarco explores some of the most interesting lyrical themes he’s ever explored in “Salad Days.” These lyrical themes, coupled with his dreamy melodies and candid song writing, makes this possibly Mac Demarco’s most consistent album. The only weakness could be seen in the length; at 11 tracks and 35 minutes, the album comes and goes in a sitting. Without jumping too far in either direction of too tame or off the wall, this album gives this artist on the rise a solid identity.

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