Mac DeMarco: Here Comes the Cowboy

Ryan Reed on June 7, 2019

MAC’S RECORD LABEL Don’t expect campfire sing-alongs, whistling solos or rustic tales about old-fashioned saloon shoot-outs. No, Mac DeMarco’s fourth studio LP is more of a “cowboy album” in loose ideology than actual product, using visions of nature and travel and isolation as a gateway to some of his simplest, most primal songwriting. The closest the Canadian songwriter comes to conjuring shiny spurs and galloping horses is the opening “Here Comes the Cowboy,” in which he softly croons the titular phrase over a bluesy electric-guitar pattern and rim-click drums for three full minutes. With zero musical development, it feels like a musical prank from indie-rock’s resident goofball—but the concept makes sense. As the song trots its way through a painfully slow fade-out, you can practically see Cowboy DeMarco in your mind, grinning wildly on the open plains. Much of the album lives in the same sonic realm as his past work: slow, dreamy one-man-band arrangements that fall between soft-rock and psychpop, full of unhurried drums and rippling guitars. Some of the cuts feel overly familiar: The spacey “All of Our Yesterdays” could be a cousin to his recent single “Nobody,” though the melismatic, descending trickle of his voice marks one of the record’s highlights. The most surprising moments tap into vintage soul and funk—like the palm-muted guitar groove of “Choo Choo,” which, between dissonant vocal harmonies and absurd splashes of gong, tips its train conductor hat to The Isley Brothers’ “It’s Your Thing.” That’s classic DeMarco: breeziness with a hint of mischief.