Thursday, Jul 24, 2014 01:44 pm est

‘Salad Days’ exposes DeMarco’s mature side

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

via Flickr.com

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 music@nyunews.com.

Comments

CLOSE [x]
CLOSE [x]
CLOSE [x]
profile portrait
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.

AS
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.

 

DY
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.

CLOSE [x]
  • How to join:

    The Washington Square News holds open weekly budget meetings at its office located at 838 Broadway every Sunday. All are welcome to attend, no matter your background in journalism, writing, or reporting. Specific times for meetings by desk are listed below. If you wish to talk to an editor before you attend, feel free to check out the Staff page.

    NEWS FEATURES MULTIMEDIA SPORTS ARTS OPINION
    5 P.M. 6 P.M. 6 P.M. 6:30 P.M. 6:30 P.M. 7 P.M.

    Applying for an editor position: Applications for editor positions during the fall or spring semesters are available twice each academic year and can be found here when posted. Applications for the Fall 2012 semester are closed, but check back for Spring 2013. Those who wish to apply are urged to publish pieces in the newspaper and contact current editors for shadowing.

    History of the Washington Square News:

    The Washington Square News is the official daily student newspaper of New York University and serves the NYU, Greenwich Village, and East Village communities. Founded as an independent newspaper in 1973, the WSN allows its undergraduate writers and photographers to cover campus and city news and continues to grow its strong body of award-winning journalists and photographers.

  • The WSN has a circulation of about 60,000 and can be found in over a hundred purple bins distributed throughout campus. It is published Monday through Thursday during the fall and spring semesters and online on Friday, with additional special issues published in the summer. The newspaper recently revamped its website during the Fall 2012 semester.

    Like few campus newspapers in the country, the paper is editorially and financially independent from the university and is solely responsible for selling advertisements to fund its production. The WSN, including its senior staff, is run solely by current undergraduate students and the business-division is largely student-operated as well.

    A Board of Directors comprised of alumni, NYU professors and working news media professionals serves as advisors to the paper. Board members have no control in the WSN's editorial policy or newsroom operations. Alumni of the newspaper are established and leading journalists in such news organizations as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, NBC news, ABC news, Fox News, and USA Today.

    Next