Album Review – Another One / Mac DeMarco

Another One has been billed as a mini-album; a stopgap between his next project, which knowing DeMarco, could drop within the next ten minutes. Last year’s Salad Days attempted to put a serious face on Mac, offering another dimension to the goof that he’s become known as. The instrumentation has always contrasted anything other than youthful spontaneity, with its strange tunings, psychedelic guitars and occasional shimmering synths. Salad Days was an interesting record, but it confirmed that Mac couldn’t expand his sound palette too much. Another One doesn’t divert from the traditional instrumentation and sleepy vocals, which leads to another solid album’s worth of the same songs. It’s disappointingly dependable.

The more experimental tracks, such as the title track, draws on ‘Chamber Of Reflection’ from Salad Days which was Mac’s best electronic track. The synths he deploys sound like he ripped them out from an old Nintendo game, with Mac’s dreamy vocal assisting the simple set-up of synth, piano and drums. He’s not the greatest lyricist, taking inspiration from early rock n’ roll with its innocent musings on love. Mac sings ‘Feeling so confused / You don’t know what to do’. Mac convinces a paranoid friend that his girlfriend loves him and no-one else. Eventually the friend comes around, but by that time the ‘other one’ has come into his life too. Like I said, the lyrics are simple, but they benefit from the fuzzy instrumentation linking back to a time when simpler lyrics would have been more appreciated.

‘Just To Put Me Down’ is a more traditional Mac song, using guitars with Hawaii-aping chord sequences and repetitive structures. The lack of experimentation beyond the same chorus ‘Picking me up / Just to put me down’ and not much in way of instrumentation evolving, apart from a guitar solo that drifts alongside an elongated fade-out shows cracks in Mac’s abilities. Sure, he can write a fine pop song and can sometimes mix things up with a synth track, his albums are becoming way more stale than his personality off-record. Mac’s interviews, live shows and quirks such as revealing his new home address at the end of ‘My House By The Water’ are the main part of his charm. Unfortunately, he can’t always deliver the goods when it comes to his actual ‘job’ and art. ‘My House By The Water’ is one of the best tracks on Another One, which would be good if it didn’t feel like a track that had to be put on for the address. There are no lyrics to speak of on the track, instead the track is taken up by the sound of water lapping at a shore and Mac’s Nintendo-synths popping up again, with an occasional train in the background. It’s the most zen thing Mac’s ever put to tape.

Another One has some good tracks; ‘A Heart Like Hers’, ‘Another One’ and ‘My House By The Water’ are the best on here. However, there is a lot of dream-pop filler which could have come from any of Mac’s albums so far and I wouldn’t have known otherwise. Another One hasn’t been billed as an album, but that shouldn’t stop it from having its own identity. Going into his fourth album, he’s going to have to shake things up considerably in order to retain both his endearing personality and a musical niche. More ‘Chamber of Reflection’ and ‘Another One’ synth-pop tracks with a psychedelic twist definitely wouldn’t go amiss.