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You’d be forgiven for not having high expectations for an album with an off-the-cuff title like Another One, but given Mac DeMarco’s track record for shaking up assumptions about his grinning, gap-toothed personality, it’s best to reserve judgement until you’ve listened to all of this lissome lesson in leisure. Those who found DeMarco’s tossed off tone on 2014’s Salad Days shambolic and scattered may not initially be impressed with its follow-up, but over repeated listens, Another One shows a surprising coherence and continuity that marks his ongoing growth as a songwriter.
DeMarco’s not a candidate for any cardiac surgery any time soon, but lyrically he continues to open his heart in honest and vulnerable ways, balancing the breezy tone of the title track by singing lines of insecurity and fear: “Feeling so confused / You don’t know what to do / afraid she might not love you anymore / the more she says she does / and hasn’t lost your trust / who could that be knocking at her door? Must be another one.” Musically, his trademark trembling guitar lines and jaunty-bordering-on-comical tunes are still on hand, but Another One is a different DeMarco creation altogether.
On “Just To Put Me Down” he channels Young Americans-era Bowie, singing with an earnestness and soulful conviction while managing to stay detached and aloof from the first-person subject matter. Within the first few songs, you notice the record’s inner conflict: the old-soul melancholy that colours Another One in somber brush strokes gets repeatedly undermined by the fact that we’ve never taken Mac DeMarco this seriously before, and are not sure if we’re supposed to, or if somehow we’ve missed the joke.
To DeMarco’s credit, it’s a confusion that makes Another One a success. If he’d gone full-out heart-on-sleeve singer songwriter, we wouldn’t know what to do with him. Hell, he gives out his personal address at the end of “My House By The Water” and invites listeners over for a cup of joe if they’re ever in the neighbourhood, and fully expects people to take him up on the offer (they have been, apparently). And you know what? By the end of Another One, you’ll want to go to that house by the water. You’ll want to pull up a chair and ask Mac how he’s doing, offer him your ear if he wants to talk about his heartbreak, be a good buddy. And it’s not about a cool Instagram-able moment, or having a laugh; it’s because Mac DeMarco taps into a vein of human emotion we’ve all cut open and bled from before.
DeMarco’s music may be shambolic and scattered, sure, but the man himself possesses a sincerity and charm that might just make him a savant.
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