In the musical world of Mac DeMarco, nothing is ever quite as it seems. His music exists in a sort of hyper-relaxed, escapist milieu, but lyrically he’s weighed down by an emotional anchor. This juxtaposition has served the idiosyncratic DeMarco well on past efforts, never more so than on 2014’s excellent Salad Days. Listening to that record, it was hard not to pull for him as he tried to untangle himself from heartache. One had to hope that on the next go round he’d be on the right track toward finding a better emotional balance.
That’s not the case, though, as Another One does its title justice. DeMarco’s latest is lean but expectedly leisurely, once again swimming calmly in the singer’s slanted but enchanting sea of lilting guitars and docile yacht-rock overtones. He’s also on the same page on the lyrical front, working his way through a heavy heart and a head clouded with self doubt. The titles of three of Another One’s eight tracks end in “her,” so it’s not hard to see that he’s hung up on someone.
As with Salad Days, part of the fun of Another One is trying to make sense of the dichotomy. Is the real DeMarco the guy behind the jaunty, carefree sounds of tracks like “Just To Put Me Down” or “I’ve Been Waiting For Her,” or is he the blue-eyed romantic solemnly kicking rocks on songs like “A Heart Like Hers” or “Without Me”? DeMarco comes across both as a guy washing in and out with the tide and someone with a certain skewed sense of humor about his lovesick doldrums, so it’s hard to get an honest feel for his disposition. Those interested in finding out might want to take DeMarco up on his offer of a cup of coffee tucked away at the end of the record.
But while the record musically and thematically aligns itself a little too closely to its predecessor, that would be a stronger critique if the formula didn’t continue to work so effectively. Slack rock prankster, sensitive soul, or both, the fact that DeMarco’s still keeping listeners guessing should keep his fans happily on their toes.