The Pepperoni Playboy has released his third album This Old Dog the follow up to 2015’s mini-EP Another One. Mac DeMarco has become the poster boy for indie rock over the last few years, with a mix of flat drums, vibrato guitar effects and a catchy chorus. DeMarco’s sound has always felt like a concoction of psychedelic, blues, and classic rock all mixed together. An element that has stayed true in all of Mac DeMarco’s records is the lightheartedness and almost playful nature of his songs, not taking life too seriously even if the subject matter in his lyrics is serious and sad.
This Old Dog is a record that is much more intimate and introspective than previous outings. The songwriting is masterful with thought provoking lyrics that tackle some of the hardest problems life throws at us. The Vancouver native has definitely moved his sound in a clearer direction, with warmer delivery in his voice and more precise production.
From the first record “My Old Man” it is evident that Mac’s third album is a much more traditional indie record with a distinct acoustic sound. DeMarco himself has said “the majority of this album is acoustic guitar, synthesizer, some drum machine, and one song is electric guitar. So this is a new thing for me. This is my acoustic album, but it’s not really an acoustic album at all”.
The opening track also address’s the albums main theme most directly; Mac DeMarco’s relationship with his father, he sings “Uh-oh, looks like I’m seeing more of my old man in me, Oh no, looks like I’m seeing more of my old man in me”. This give’s us an insight into a troubled relationship, and one Mac is still clearly hurting from.
DeMarco’s previous records, have always poked fun at his carefree, careless, and sometimes reckless rock star lifestyle, or at least this is the persona he projects for his die hard fans. Regardless the title track of This Old Dog suggests that the lifestyle has started to catch up with him, “This old dog ain’t about to forget, All we’ve had, And all that’s next, ‘Long as my heart’s beating in my chest, This old dog ain’t about to forget”, Mac DeMarco sings touching on the themes of aging and unceasing love.
The middle of the album feels like very familiar territory for Mac DeMarco; love songs, with sad lyrics delivered in a way that is almost tongue and cheek, the tone is playful yet melancholic but never too serious. “Baby You’re Out”, “For the First Time”, “One Another” and “Still Beating” doesn’t break any new ground for Mac DeMarco and this may be one of the few draw backs for the album. However considering these tracks will still have you tapping your feet and swaying side to side, speaks to the quality of the record.
The eighth track “Dreams from Yesterday” Mac DeMarco, asks himself the biggest questions. A song about making life changing decisions, about dreams, and being mature enough to rise and work for these dreams. He sings “Once your dreams, Come knocking at your door, It’s time to realize, You aren’t dreaming anymore”, over a mix of synths and acoustic guitar chords, this record teems with nostalgia. In an interview with Pitchfork Mac Demarco said that “Dreams from Yesterday” is his favorite song from the album. “I think my favorite song on the record is the first song from side two, “Dreams From Yesterday”. I tried to do a bossa nova album when I was younger, maybe when I was 20 or something. But that one’s a little bit bossa nova-y sounding, I suppose”
It is clear that our favorite indie man child is growing up, you feel it throughout each of the 13 tracks on This Old Dog. The 12th track “Moonlight on the river” embodies all of the themes explored on the record the most, and is also our pick for best song on This Old Dog. Posing questions about love, family and growing up “Moonlight on the River” features spaced out guitar riffs, with rich textures that are like silk for the ears, it comes to a gnarly climax where Mac laughs, screams and freaks out.
The end of This Old Dog is by one of the saddest and most vulnerable records that Mac DeMarco has ever done, as he details the sadness he feels for his farther fading away even though he’s never been close to his old man. “Watching Him Fade Away” also provides the most stripped down chords, making Mac’s reflection on his relationship that much more personal and intimate.
Overall the album features so many songs that encourages one to look into the distance and think about loved ones, our existence, heck even the universe. Listen to tracks like “On the Level”, and “One more Love Song” and it’s nearly impossible not to indulge some introspection. This Old Dog isn’t a revolution for Mac DeMarco however it’s definitely a shift to a place where he’s getting to grips with what it is to be a grown up and the hardships that he’s come through to get there.
We give This Old Dog a 7.5 Class Rating.
Listen to This Old Dog below and fire through your thoughts in the comments section.