Review Summary: Mac takes it even easier.
It’s been over a decade since the release of Mac DeMarco’s 2. It feels like ages ago, but on release, that album practically redefined 2010s indie, for better or worse. His particular brand of jangly, low-key soft pop toed the line between D.I.Y. basement recordings and safe-for-work backyard BBQ tunes in a way that seemed to cast an impressively-large net. The success he’s seen up to the present day only proves that notion, with a dedicated fanbase/hatemob at his beck and call whenever either is needed.
There is a lot you can say about the man’s more recent output (and I’m sure those people won’t be shy in saying it), but for what it’s worth, I didn’t think 2019’s Here Comes the Cowboy was the career self-destruct a lot of people portrayed it as. It is certainly a step down from DeMarco’s previous efforts, and there are some questionable choices here and there, but it didn’t stray from the direction he was trending towards for years. I’ve probably said as much at some point in the past. Everyone seemed to disagree with that opinion, but I can live with that.
Well, I hate to be a broken record, but Five Easy Hot Dogs is the exact same beast. Forgoing vocals or hooks, and possibly good taste, Mac DeMarco has completed another phase in his Jimmy-Buffett-ification. Someday very soon, I expect to see him touring on a Carnival cruise ship to a gaggle of very happy 30-somethings, practically soggy with nostalgia. Because while this album may not be as outwardly offensive to some people as Here Comes the Cowboy was, it is the one thing that Mac hasn’t been since he started out: completely ignorable. An artist, who at one point was impossible to escape hype/anti-hype for, quietly slinks into the background on Five Easy Hot Dogs, like wisps of cigarette smoke into a 3mph wind.
Okay, I’m being hyperbolic. I don’t even particularly hate this record. Parts of it are actually pretty alright (“Victoria,” “Chicago,” “Rockaway”). But other than those few select tracks, it’s difficult to even conjure words about this release. It’s exactly what you would expect an album of Mac DeMarco instrumentals would sound like. It’s exactly what DeMarco himself described it as. And it’s exactly what most of the internet was prepared for. A curiosity or a nice stopgap between now and his next release, but nothing else.
Mac DeMarco’s steady, awkward shuffle towards elevator muzak has me expecting some sort of rug-pull at any moment. It’s hard to view Five Easy Hot Dogs as anything more than a “gotcha!” to punk his cloying fans for asking for the same old shtick for so long. From what I’ve seen, the man’s self-aware enough to be in on the joke (that is, himself). And that’s fine. Maybe this really is the kind of music he wants to make. All I know is that this just doesn’t sound like any fun.