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MAC DEMARCO Here Comes The Cowboy gets 6.5/10


Mac DeMarco

Here Comes the Cowboy
Mac’s Record Label/Spunk/Caroline

6.5/10

Mac DeMarco somehow manages to double down on the minimalism on his latest album, Here Comes the Cowboy. It’s a testament to his songwriting chops and musical personality that it’s still a fun listen, but it straddles the edge between spontaneity and laziness.

Ever since his breakthrough, 2014’s Salad Days, Mac DeMarco has taken a lackadaisical approach, paring down his arrangements and producing sparse, homely and introspective tunes. In the process, he’s become one of indie rock’s most beloved songwriters.

Here Comes the Cowboy, at its finest, shows that his melodic sensibility is still intact. Nobody is one of DeMarco’s best songs yet, an introspective ode to fame with a beautiful melody that’s so sleepy that it seems to stretch out as if DeMarco only remembers to utter the words mid-phrase. Finally Alone sees DeMarco pining for a holiday in a beautiful falsetto croon that he should adopt more often. K is a lovely little ballad about growing older and falling into love. Trust DeMarco to dare to be so obvious in 2019 – he wears his heart on his sleeve and comes out victorious for it. On the Square is the other triumph here, with a classic piano chord progression underpinning another beautiful melody.

The rest is a mixed bag – none of the tunes offend, but you wonder if DeMarco is resting on his laurels. Little Dogs March, Preoccupied and Heart to Heart are all slow-paced and charming little tunes, but they’re so sparse and simple that I’m unsure if I like them or if I just like DeMarco. You start to wish he’d push himself a bit further – the keyboard lines and varied melodies and moods that ran through 2017’s excellent This Old Dog are not present here. There’s a trifecta of songs in particular – Here Comes the Cowboy, Hey Cowgirl, and Choo Choo, that seem designed to scare off non-fans. Their tongue-in-cheek minimalism grates on second listen – the title track, for instance, has no lyrics apart from the title, and repeats them ad nauseam. It doesn’t help that the musical backing is so spartan. It’s not minimalist per se – there are snatches of electric and acoustic guitar, bouncy bass, woozy keyboard, horns, and flutes throughout. However, the instruments are locked into their little boxes, which doesn’t give these homespun songs much room to breathe.

Here Comes the Cowboy will appeal to fans, and there are some real gems to be found within. But newcomers to DeMarco would best be served to cherry pick the highlights and turn to previous efforts for a more solid introduction.

MATIJA ZIVKOVIC

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