Indie rock’s gap-toothed goofball prince Mac DeMarco caught his fans by surprise by quietly releasing two new tracks from his third full-length album, “This Old Dog,” last week, and they’re great.
The first of the two, “My Old Man,” immediately establishes itself as more polished than his previous lo-fi output. Where tracks like “Ode to Viceroy” and “Cooking Up Something Good” were defined by their crackly, home-produced cassette deck sound, these guitars are crisp and finely produced, bringing to mind fellow south California slacker-rock posterboy Wavves’ similar progression from fuzz-drenched surf punk to cleaner pop-rock aesthetics on “Afraid of Heights.”
Much like Nathan Williams’ ennui-tinged declarations of adolescent longing on that record, Mac’s reverberated vocals wax meditative, wary of the future; “Uh-oh, looks like I’m seeing more of my old man in me.” At the age of 26, he sounds like his usual self, the guy that his fans have come to adore, feeling the pangs of existential dread, but ultimately content and with a sunny, amiable disposition. Behind it all are a steady drum machine and a minimalist bleep-bloop synth hook that give the whole thing a mellow sort of folktronica sound. It’s a great tune.
The second track released is the title track, “This Old Dog.” It’s a real stunner, and easily the better of the two. In the same vein as “Let My Baby Stay,” one of the standouts from his 2014 breakthrough “Salad Days,” it’s a slow-paced tune with bittersweet, wistful lyrics and a dreamy tropical vibe. Over lush synths that evoke carefree summer evenings spent on the boardwalk watching the sun go down, Mac croons pensive lines like “This old dog ain’t about to forget / all we’ve had and all that’s next.”
He sounds sleepy; half-awake, but full-hearted. He sounds like Nick Drake lightened up a bit and took his guitar to the beach. It’s an unpretentious, gorgeous song. Undoubtedly one of his strongest to date (one of my personal favorites of his so far), and seemingly destined for summer road trip playlist immortality.
These two tracks epitomize Mac’s biggest strengths as a songwriter: earworm hooks, heart-on-sleeve sincerity, and a knack for laid-back vibes. The album is set for a May 5 release from Captured Tracks—just in time for the summer.
If “My Old Man” and “This Old Dog” are any indication of what’s to come, we’re in for one of the best indie rock records of the year.