‘Salad Days’ epitomises Mac DeMarco’s journey to perfecting his self titled “jizz-jazz” sound; lucid and beautiful, an incredible demonstration of a naturally gifted songwriter having honed his craft, creating a sleepy, slacker pop classic in the process.
Opener ‘Blue Boy’ has an ever so slightly woozier effect, guitars flanging and whammying in and out of key, almost like a record slowing to a close. The lilo from which I assume DeMarco recorded the song doesn’t float in waters too dissimilar from Real Estate, the chorus is more reminiscent of Lou Reed’s seminal ‘Transformer’, and is just as hooky and charming as fans have come to associate with the Mac. This is one of several songs on ‘Salad Days’ that show his a priori ability, as well crafted as the songs are they have a wonderfully organic and natural feel to them. It’s as though we’re hearing the lyrics as they creep in to DeMarco’s layabout psyche.
‘Brother’ is low tempo, commodious and haunting. It drags itself from being an airy emotive surf ballad to a disarming, brief psychedelic outro. It’s lyrically and vocally hypnotic and elating, it stands out as the perfect track to sum up the whole timbre of the album, (not at all to say the album is limited in sonic scope) the sound is taken through several varying avenues throughout the album, and is a testament to his ability to stretch his sound which supposedly stems from a 30 dollar guitar being put through even cheaper effects pedals.
‘Passing Out Pieces’ begins with a beautifully contrasting layer of 80s synths, draped with the kind of vocal harmony that could’ve staggered it’s way from the intelligent madhouse that was ‘Plastic Beach’ before erupting into a much more characteristically idle chorus. This archetypal Mac continues his march on ‘Treat Her Better’ - a wonderfully heart wrenching jaunt that seeps seamlessly from the innately beautiful to the carefully disjointed. It’s narrative guided lyricism and overall timbre make it sound like a stale, stoned country song that’s just been dusted off.
The flanging organs and bright analogue synthesisers of ‘Chamber Of Reflection’ are the sound of a Mac DeMarco with a shot at the big-time. ‘Salad Days’ takes Mac’s wealth of influences and leaves them to swelter. If you mistake him for a goofy bumpkin then he’ll surprise you with depth but if you laud him as a laureate then he’ll flash your grandma. The Mac DeMarco experience is as indistinct as ever, but he’s never sounded more in control of it all.
Words: Jake Williams