21. Mac Demarco, 2
Label: Captured Tracks
Released: October 16
At first glance, Mac Demarco seems like a case of indie rock irony overload. For one, the album is called 2, a tried and true indie nod to Led Zeppelin and the bloated rock of the '70s that punk rebelled against. Then there's the album cover: Mac in a wooded setting with his guitar strapped up to his nipples offering a peace sign and sporting a too-earnest-to-possibly-be-earnest shit-eating grin. And the tunes themselves feature Demarco's flanged out lead guitar so heavily that—again, on first listen—they practically beg to be called jokes. But then it turns out the whole thing is really super-legitimately weird and beautiful and you have to take the whole enterprise seriously.
Try this on for a musical formula: take a few Jimmy Buffet happy hour riffs, mix in some Steely Dan-style noodle funk, douse the whole thing some heavy Big Star brooding, make sure the finished product actually sounds nothing like any of the aforementioned groups, and you get an idea of the Mac Demarco experience. Songs that begin with hippy dippy guitar lines veer off in strange directions once the verses begin and vice versa. The lyrics are jaunty tales of meth cooking and odes to off-brand cigarettes.
The whole thing ends with "Together" a sweetly mellow acoustic number punctuated by Demarco declaiming "togeeeeeeeether" in an unpolished but tuneful falsetto. After about eight of these, there's an audible whistle, Demarco himself perhaps saying, "Fuck, I can't believe I'm actually trying this shit, and fuck, I'm actually kinda-sorta pulling it off." Whatever it is (and clearly we're still wrapping our head around it), it's true, and good. -JE