Thomas Johnson has the fat LP with cappuccino on the wax.
Mac DeMarco’s a weird dude. Another One, in turn, is a weird piece of music. It’s breezy enough to listen to with a beer and a buddy on your rooftop when the sun comes up. If you just got dumped, rejected, or maybe there’s just nothing going on, it’s even more potent. It’s a quirky romantic not unlike it’s architect. Happy go lucky, painfully accurate, surprisingly beautiful. The quirkiest part won’t be the videos, as his reputation exhibits*, it’ll be the fact that a 25 year old from the capital of Alberta was able to record a 360-view of what he believes love to be, entail, and mean, in the course of 24 minutes. Nicholas Sparks couldn’t write this if he was posted in the French Riviera. With a lifetime supply of cabernet sauvignon. And Fabio meeting him every morning for brunch. Thank goodness sentimentality comes in different flavors.
DeMarco hails from Edmonton, which isn’t remotely close to what could be called a romantic city. There’s too much gravel, not enough wine. The closest thing the Oil Country’s capital has resembling a love affair is the love/(mostly)hate relationship with it’s hockey team that’s been in the midst of a rebuild for a fucking decade. It’s maybe for this reason that DeMarco relocated to New York to record Another One, which he describes as being “about all different kinds of facets of being in love, being out of love, wanting love, not wanting love.” A vague description, about as vague as it’s topic. But ambiguity and accuracy aren’t mutually exclusive. Not a single proper noun is thrown into the mix, but underneath the lack of details DeMarco upholds a sense of introspection that’s as universal as all the things he sings about. There’s no Courtney from Hooters because you might have your own to think about. No particulars means nothing to refute, and nothing to refute means you’re going to relate, regardless of which side of your fence the green grass was on.
Album opener, “The Way You’d Love Her” exemplifies why Mac’s third party, but really first person, but still third-party songwriting covers the whole gamut. When your average song is under three minutes you don’t have a ton of room to waste your breath, so when Mac sings he doesn’t sweat the details. The short narrative gist is that a guy didn’t give a girl enough time. Said guy realizes too late that he’s in love with her. Said girl realizes she deserved better. The bottom line, delivered near absent-mindedly in the last stanza, is the harshest of realities: Either way, you’re still in love, so find a way to deal with it.
The rest of the album goes through the motions like an omnipresent character being dealt every blow. DeMarco never gets directly involved, but you never lose the sense that he knows precisely what’s going on and how it feels. Maybe she doesn’t love you anymore. You love her but there’s someone else, and you get caught up again. You decide this time you’re done, you just can’t do it anymore. Welllll shit, looks like you got caught up again.
“Without Me,” the last proper song, culminates the emotions of the previous nineteen minutes into a conclusion as mature as it is difficult to accept.
“Will she find love again tomorrow?
I don’t know, I hope so
And that’s fine, fine by me
As long as
long as I know she’s happy, happy
It doesn’t take much to realize that as he repeats the verse and chorus he’s still trying to wrap his head around the reality of the situation. It’s shocking maturity that can’t be expected from someone his age, but has to be respected when told with lucidity of this caliber.
DeMarco’s knack for shimmering pop belies the heft of the words he lays on top. Baselines are plucked as loosely as his falsetto. Drums are merely timepieces. The only true presence apart from DeMarco thinking out loud is his guitar, which does essentially the same thing. It’s tear-jerking music no matter how pleasantly it’s painted. Catharsis has to be digestible lest you get all choked up.
Mac’s the type to pose naked like Buffalo Bill, and the type to pen exceptionally profound ballads that fall under three minutes. An avid fan of Steeley Dan and Shuggie Otis that describes his own output as “Jizz-Jazz,” Another One is an odd little record, too. At least he invites you over for some coffee at the end. Maybe you can talk it over.