SALAD DAYS, CAPTURED TRACKS
Salad Days: how fitting a name for well-known weirdo Mac Demarco’s second full-length studio album, released again via Brooklyn-based music syndicate, Captured Tracks. It’s a record whose sounds are positively foliated with the sunny, youthful bloom of juvenile days. But, that’s not to say that the talent behind the music is in any way callow. The guitars are sharper, Demarco’s voice is smoother, the action on the skins tighter and more deliberate — Salad Days is surely a swathed and polished venture for Demarco & co., more so than previous releases.
And, of course, the musings on this album adopt an intent that is more easygoing in nature, seeing as how he has seemingly been in a state of manic, perpetual tour since 2012’s release, 2. This record is breathy with air that is as fresh as it is reminiscent of perhaps a more wafting time and Demarco manages to harbour a mid-fi sound that is nothing if not nostalgia itself.
The album’s opener and title track is a balmy one and the pace is easy but never idle. In “Salad Days,” Demarco’s creamy vocals croon about the ephemerality of experiences in all its soft-spoken whimsy: “Rolling through life, to roll over and die.” It is perhaps a rather melancholy conclusion and these same sentiments permeate the album in its entirety: life can be a tedious, sometimes fruitless endeavour. But Demarco doesn’t seem to be grieved by that notion, per se. Rather, he embraces the transient nature of all things, calling for us to adopt a more yielding and mellow demeanour in response.
And then he drifts into “Brother,” a track where, yet again, the metallic licks of his guitar shimmer throughout. Demarco advises further, tiredly echoing his sermon: “Take it slowly, brother/Let it go.”
As the album progresses further, Demarco dabbles into some newfound sounds, skimming into muted, bizarro-synths for pleasure and previously released track, “Passing Out Pieces,” teetering into some brassy tendencies. These explorations keep the album ripe, but the signature, steely guitar coursing at full length makes us feel right at home.
Salad Days is not altogether an extraordinarily new or revamped sound, but is rather a continuation of Demarco’s endearing, subtle novelty. One might recall similar sense of dispiritedness in some of the messages behind 2, at times bubbling to the surface beyond even his token jangles and riffs, but the conclusions he draws now are ultimately more contented and reclined in disposition. It seems he has managed to take some time to reflect amidst all his travel.
Demarco has essentially taken the music of hazy summers past and pulped them into Salad Days, saturating the album with his insight, freckling us with it. Song titles like “Treat Her Better” and “Let My Baby Stay” read like maxims and Demarco is simply imparting his wisdom with the same soul, but with taut production. His fingers pouring over tinny strings and his weary voice always with a hint of his gap-toothed smile, Mac Demarco says one thing: just be easy, man.
By Nivedita Iyer
Illustration by Danielle Jette