REX’S RATING: 9.5 / 10
“Passing Out Pieces”
“Treat Her Better”
“Let My Baby Stay”
“How the fuck do all these people know who I am?” Truer words could not have been spoken by DeMarco following the release of this new smash album of his. Because as much as his sophomore release marks a new beginning for what is bound to be a very fruitful career for the Vancouver Island-born musician, it also marks the end of his “indie class clown” status as he slowly becomes a household name in the underground music community.
One could say that Salad Days is to Mac DeMarco is what The Suburbs was to Arcade Fire. DeMarco has earned a massive cult-like following with his onstage antics (like sticking a drumstick up his bum bum, just to paint a picture for you) and his surfy rock, slacker vibes, but even before the release of Salad Days DeMarco commented about the pressures of putting out an album in order to please “The Man.” Over the past couple of years his fanbase seemed to be growing by the minute, so naturally the big cheeses are going to jump all over DeMarco’s shit with dollar signs flashing in their money-hungry eyeballs.
But that doesn’t mean us indie snobs should scoff at Salad Days the same way we did at Arcade Fire after the 2011 Grammy Awards. The album still sticks true to DeMarco’s slacker, indie roots, and was even recorded in DeMarco’s tiny Brooklyn apartment (not to mention that he played each and every instrument heard on the album all by his lonesome); but that’s not the only reason why every music nerd on the planet should listen to Salad Days. Hearing the album’s singles separately before the release of the album was a gem in itself, but seeing how the album was crafted from start to finish and appreciating how the tracks interlace with one another is where the true delight lies in Salad Days. The album seemed oddly familiar and comfortable; kind of like bathing in old bath water. Warm, soothing, dirty bath water.
It starts off with a bang thanks to the title track “Salad Days,” and with high-pitched, laugh-along vocals Mac DeMarco pulls a Gene Ween by beckoning the listener over to his side as we begin the wondrous journey that is listening to Salad Days. The listener is then taken on a joyride through the glistening riffs on “Blue Boy,” the distortioned-up-the-ying-yang (and second single off the album) “Brother,” before leading them into “Let Her Go,” which can only be described as what sounds like a Syd Barrett-like acid flashback. He then ventures forth into the tangled (yet intriguing) “Goodbye Weekend,” before slowing things down for a tropical delight on “Let My Baby Stay;” (is it just me or is there a slight bit of Walkmen in there? Because if so, I’m going to lather all up in that shit).
But the true shining star of the album was none other than the album’s leading single “Passing Out Pieces,” which is a sort of sharp contrast to the rest of the album with its elaborate keyboard section and soothing harmonies. If it wasn’t for this track I wouldn’t have been counting down the days to the release of Salad Days as passionately as I had been doing for the past few months, because yes, my life is that sad and boring like that.
So why didn’t I give this album a perfect 10 / 10 score when clearly my love for DeMarco delves much deeper than having a bias for Vancouver Island-born musicians? Well besides the fact that even the instrumental outro had its place, it seems as though the album fell short at what DeMarco is clearly capable of. Each and every track on the album was short (and sweet) but I’m sure it only scraped at the surface of what goes on inside Mac’s crazy little head of his. In total the album came to a whopping 31 minutes, which is about the same amount of time it took me to realize after watching How I Met Your Mother for the first time that the show was going to have a shit-tastic ending leaving its fanbase feeling angry and Lost-like (AKA not that long).
But one of the main factors driving Salad Days down IMO was that it seemed like DeMarco wrote each track on the album on the same
drug day, and it’s hard to really differentiate one song from the other unless you listen to the album over and over again like I did over the course of a few days. I was expecting a lot more variety and a hell of a lot more flavour, but that’s not to say that it didn’t leave me with an entirely new perspective of DeMarco altogether
…OK so maaaaaybe I have taken a liking to Salad Days because DeMarco is from my island, but all us Vancouver Islanders have is the Costello-fucking Diana Krall and the sell-out that is Nelly Furtado; so cut me some slack yo!