You have to love a musician who sounds like he’s having fun. On his sophomore record, you can practically hear Montreal-based Mac DeMarco’s smile as he speak-sings lyrics like “Mommy’s in the kitchen, cookin’ up something good / Daddy’s on the sofa, pride of the neighborhood” over the warm noodling of his guitar.
In what is one of the more unapologetically “slacker-rock” releases this year, 2 features brilliantly backwoods lyrics all over the record. It helps that DeMarco’s singing style fluctuates between a friendly mumble and a wonderfully bratty falsetto, a range that helps sell the backyard swamp music of “Annie” and the vocal showcase “Still Together.”
The latter track, which ends the album, stands out not only because of DeMarco’s honey-soaked croonings, but also because it has the distinction of being the only acoustic track on the record.
“Still Together” perfectly synthesizes DeMarco’s loose vocalizing with one of his more beautiful chord progressions, leaving the listener wishing he would have branched out more in this direction across the rest of the record.
To be fair, there are so many well-written songs on this album that DeMarco more than earns his keep. With darkly funny lyrics like “I’ll smoke you ‘til I’m dying” and a skit that ostensibly doubles as an advertising campaign for Viceroy cigarettes, “Ode To Viceroy” alone makes a good case for DeMarco as one of the great new talents of his generation. The song’s ending falsetto cooing and melodic guitar work exude a casual virtuosity.
DeMarco is also a hell of a guitarist. Even with a somewhat homogeneous sound and style he manages to knock almost every track out of the park by virtue of his skill with his instrument. Opener “Cooking Up Something Good” features off-kilter guitar picking, with bends and slides galore that fill up the track nicely. Elsewhere on tracks like “Dreaming” or “The Stars Keep On Calling My Name” he pulls out more structured, but no less melodic, lines that come off as DeMarco’s personal take on the dream pop craze currently sweeping the indie world.
“My Kind of Woman” rides along on a passably funny verse before DeMarco churns out easily the best chorus of the record, in which his penchant for left-turn chord progressions and picking style come together for a moment of indie romance bliss.
There’s seemingly no end to the ideas DeMarco has for his guitar on 2, and the most astounding part is that it all sounds as natural to him as breathing.
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