Review Summary: If Another One doesn't exactly kick off phase two of Mac's career, it does serve as harmless filler until then.
Rejoice, everyone! Your favourite John Lennon-impersonating hipster doofus is back. No, I did not mean Kevin Parker. That esteemed title surely belongs to Mac DeMarco, the talented young singer-songwriter from Canada.
Over the last three years, Mac's been making waves with his brand of lovesick guitar pop. His first full-length album, 2, found him already a charismatic and compelling music presence. Behind every jangling number was Mac's gap-toothed grin, part of a lovable persona which also includes an infatuation with cigarettes. Last year's sequel Salad Days was arguably an even stronger set of songs. Though Salad Days explored little new sonic territory, it did find Mac's sound deepening, with more pensive lyrics and mellifluous compositions than we'd heard before. Songs like 'Salad Days', 'Brother' and 'Treat Her Better' delivered on the melodic promises of his debut in a big way.
I hoped that now Mac had perfected his signature sound with Salad Days, he might change it up somewhat to keep from stagnating. Disappointingly, his aptly-titled new mini-album Another One is mostly more of the same. Like his last two records, Another One features twinkling guitars, shuffling drums and Mac's lackadaisical voice, all bobbing together down a gentle stream. Most of these eight songs are sun-drenched and heartfelt, and worthy additions to the Mac DeMarco canon. But heaven almighty are they similar to Mac's previous material.
'The Way You'd Love Her' kicks off the pint-sized record with chiming guitar riffs and a bittersweet chorus. For those of us who love Mac, the song is comfortable and warm, like an old jersey. But like that old jersey, 'The Way You'd Love Her' is also faded, slack and overly familiar. As lovely as the track is, it is eerily similar to 'Blue Boy' from Mac's last album, especially in its chorus.
Most of the songs on Another One elicit similar feelings of both charm and deja vu. The only aspect of Another One that really distinguishes it from previous Mac DeMarco releases is its use of keyboards, most audible on the title track and the ambivalent 'A Heart Like Hers.' While not propelling Mac to anywhere new, the soft-focus sound of these keys enriches Another One's polaroid loveliness.
The only real exception to the same-old feel of this new record is the ambient closer, 'My House By The Water.' Featuring the sound of lapping waves beneath faintly ominous keyboards, this outro sounds more like a Boards Of Canada track than a Mac DeMarco one. Could this possibly be a taste of wonderful weirdness yet to come? Is Another One simply the jangle-pop songs Mac wanted to get out of his system before going somewhere radical? One can certainly hope.
If Another One doesn't exactly kick off phase two of Mac's career, it does serve as harmless filler until then. Forgiving its lack of ambition, one can definitely have fun with Another One. After a couple listens through, the country twang of 'I've Been Waiting For Her' and the Brian Wilson-esque pop of 'No Other Heart' seem to be the standouts. I may not be able to accept your invitation for coffee at your house, Mac, but I'll sure be soundtracking my mornings with Another One for the next couple weeks.