Wednesday, Jul 30, 2014 09:18 pm est

‘Salad Days’ exposes DeMarco’s mature side

Posted on April 9, 2014 | by Alex Berner-Coe


On the opening track of his new release “Salad Days,” 23-year-old singer-songwriter Mac DeMarco croons, “Always feeling tired, smiling when required/Write another year off and kindly resign.”

Fans of the goofy, perhaps too-relaxed guitarist might be thrown off by this sentiment, which seems out of place among his past lyrical references to unemployment, leaving town and his favorite brand of cigarettes.

The bizarre jokester, who has a reputation for obscene onstage antics and a crude, self-deprecating sense of humor, rarely expressed his mounting fatigue on his 2012 releases “2” and “Rock and Roll Nightclub,” where he relied on opaque references to his most personal thoughts.

Crucial moments of acute self-awareness and mature honesty are ubiquitous throughout “Salad Days.” Indie rock’s rebellious and slightly twisted version of Prince Charming has perhaps always been this weary and wise underneath his carefree persona, but, up until now, he had yet to offer more than thinly veiled metaphors.

DeMarco’s multifaceted nature is what makes him such a fascinating character. The air of bemused detachment that surrounds his gap-toothed smirk hints that he could not care less, yet his love ballads, including the most recent “Let My Baby Stay,” ring with sincerity and tenderness. DeMarco recorded the entirety of “Salad Days” at a studio located inside his Brooklyn apartment, playing every instrument himself.

Through “Salad Days’” sleepy, wobbling guitar melodies and catchy rhythms, DeMarco offers some guidance with a welcoming voice. “Blue Boy,” a dreamy, ambling track urges listeners to “calm down, sweetheart, grow up,” while the warm and weathered “Brother,” asks them to “take it slowly, brother, let it go now.”

On the achingly lonely and exploratory “Chamber of Reflection” — which rapper Tyler, The Creator has called DeMarco’s best song to date — DeMarco tells audiences to “spend some time alone.”

Yet DeMarco seems to be grappling with his own advice on the album’s lead single “Passing Out Pieces,” again expressing discomfort with his newfound fame. “Can’t shake concern,” he sings. “Seems that every time that I turn I’m passing out pieces of me/Don’t you know nothing comes free?”

The troubled penultimate track “Go Easy” finally moves into the album’s conclusion, an entrancing and slightly discordant instrumental titled “Johnny’s Odyssey,” which is a slight departure from DeMarco’s previous work.

But just as listeners start to think that everyone’s favorite mischief-maker has grown up — that “Salad Days” is in fact a departure from the endearing shenanigans of his 2012 projects — DeMarco’s speaking voice interrupts the silence after the last chord of the album fades away. “Hi guys, this is Mac,” he says. “Thank you for joining me, see you again soon. Buh-bye.”

The artist’s growth is unmistakable, but DeMarco’s youthful, warped sense of humor is not going anywhere.

A version of this article appeared in the Wednesday, April 9 print edition. Alex Berner-Coe is a staff writer. Email her at


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Felipe De La Hoz

Multimedia Editor | Felipe De La Hoz is a Colombian national studying journalism at the College of Arts and Sciences. Having been born in Colombia and raised in the United States, Mexico and Brazil, Felipe is a trilingual travel aficionado and enjoys working in varied and difficult environments. Apart from his photography, Felipe enjoys investigative reporting and interviews, interviewing the likes of Colombian ex-M-19 guerrilla fighters and controversial politician Jimmy McMillan. He has covered everything from governmental conferences to full-blown riots, as well as portraiture shoots and dining photography. Having worked under Brazilian photojournalists for Reuters and AFP, Felipe hopes to one day work on demanding journalistic projects and contribute to the global news cycle.

Ann Schmidt

News Editor | Ann is a liberal studies sophomore who lived in Florence during her freshman year. She plans on double-majoring in journalism and political science and is always busy. She is constantly making lists and she loves to laugh.


Daniel Yeom

Daniel started at the Features desk of WSN last Spring, writing restaurant reviews whilst indulging on free food and consequently getting fat. Last Fall, he was the dining editor, and he this semester he is senior editor. Daniel is in Gallatin (living the dream) studying Food & Travel Narratives, incorporating aspects of Food Studies, Journalism, and Media, Culture, and Communication. He loves food more than life itself.

Hannah Luu

Deputy Multimedia Editor | Hannah Luu is a ridiculously great Deputy Multimedia Editor. She is a sophomore from Northern California. If you think Northern California means San Francisco you might need to closely examine a map. She is passionate about NPR and being half Asian.

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