Mac DeMarco presents his songs with backyard accessibility as well as an accomplished sheen.2 is a stream of concise and well-executed songs containing implicit humour and a general suggestion to just take a breath.

2, the second record from Canada’s Mac DeMarco, opens with ‘Cooking Up Something Good’, introducing a queasy, crooked-neck guitar jangling through an up-tempo, major key riff. DeMarco’s contemplative vocals assume an abstracted viewpoint to portray an aberrant family home scenario. The chorus refrain, “When life moves this slowly / Just try to let it go,” along with the casual ease of DeMarco’s low register, suggests the domestic peculiarities (“My brother’s in the ballet”, “Daddy’s in the basement cooking up something fine”) aren’t worth getting agitated about.

The album maintains the steady saunter established by the opening number, and direct production lucidly presents the movements of the core setup: two guitars, bass, drums and vocals. Busy melodic guitar lines decorate many songs, while DeMarco’s placid baritone frequently depicts a grubby reality with romantic allure.

‘Ode To Viceroy’ is a speak-sing paean for a cheap brand of cigarettes and DeMarco’s deadpan demeanour is somewhat subverted by the subject matter. He discloses affection without worrying about the potential negatives that could arise. Ultimately the song proves to be a fairly enticing advertisement for the poison’s calming effect.

‘Freaking Out The Neighbourhood’ is centred around an energised three-chord sequence while the vocals remain fairly laconic. DeMarco’s style is descriptive rather than particularly expressive and the lack of affectedness actually gives insight into the perspective of the narrator. Singing, “Sorry mama … I know it’s no fun when your first son starts freaking out the neighbourhood” with an utter lack of alarm indicates he’s not exactly repentant.

DeMarco’s lethargic composure isn’t indicative of an absence of ambition or a lack of proactive will. ‘The Stars Keep Calling My Name’reveals searching desires, both ‘My Kind Of Lover’and the devotional ballad ‘Together’ show genuine sentimentality, and even the most expressive moments are imbued with a touch of irony and a slight wink.

4/5 stars


2 is out now through Spunk.

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