If Mac DeMarco’s new album Salad Days could be related to his previous works, it would be done through time and place. His first album, Rock and Roll Night Club was, as the title suggests, an eccentric and misty set of songs. These songs were set somewhere in the late hours of a Saturday night as Mac left an odd party for a drive to listen to the radio and put on makeup.
2, the his next album, was set sometime earlier on, maybe around 5pm, as Mac walked down the street from his apartment with a cigarette in hand. As he did, he was wearing earrings, lost somewhere in thought, perhaps dreaming about some lover soon to come or merely what good piece of food could be cooked for dinner before heading out to the club.
Salad Days is the morning after these charades. It’s not that he was drunk the night before and that now the songs are wrought with hangover withdrawal, but we certainly find a man in a state of reflection. Yet, in a similar manner to his previous work, his lyrics aren’t far from the moment. He’s simply lounging on the couch, observing the Sunday morning sun as it sheds a small amount of sunlight on the cans of beer and Viceroy cigarettes sporadically thrown across the room.
This can be seen no better than in the album’s opening track, ‘Salad Days’, with the words both acknowledging Mac getting older, but at the same time still acting as if he was a teenager. It’s as if Mac is telling himself and his fans that his outlandish behavior the night before was all for the purpose of keeping the youth within him. In this way, the album still maintains Mac’s signature image of a bro.
‘Brother’, with its brilliant funky intro, purveys this message as the lyrics have Mac comforting a close friend who seems to be wishing his life away. Such hopes are against Mac’s philosophy. He wants people to be themselves, unafraid to be weird or to incur the scolding glance of a person on the street. While ‘Let It Go’ explains how this can help a person understand when a lover isn’t meant for them, ‘Goodbye Weekend’ has Mac saying nicely to those who don’t agree with his antics that he isn’t acting crazily to hide his problems.
‘Let My Baby Stay’ is a sign that Mac knows who he is. It’s the best song on the LP: a beautiful acoustic performance that has Mac sad over his childhood sweetheart who is being deported back to Canada from the USA.
In the end, Mac hasn’t allowed fame to alter him, a fact cemented in the album’s second half. It showcases the still fun-loving, still charismatic, and still brilliantly entertaining Mac DeMarco that we know and love.