As one of the more endearing characters in the modern musical climate, Mac DeMarco is incredibly easy to adore, yet, in between love letters to cigarettes (‘Ode To Viceroy’ ) and his goofy onstage antics, he’s an artist who makes it incredibly hard to take him seriously. His second full length album, Salad Days, ends up being the point where DeMarco shows maturity into a ‘serious artist’ by banning himself from writing songs about ‘absolutely nothing’.
Soundwise, Salad Days isn’t a disorientating contract to 2, his signature nostalgic jangle and joyful arpeggios that make up his self described ‘jizz jazz’ style is still present within the carefree guitar of ‘Salad Days’ and ‘Let Her Go’. Slight progress is also made in the form of a more eclectic use of instruments, such as the synth drone of ‘Passing Out The Pieces’ and to express melancholic grandeur in ‘Chamber of Reflection’. However, the overall sound is far more woozy and wary, with his more playful qualities shaken off, Salad Days is the sound of DeMarco beaten down by the pressures of a touring lifestyle and the personal difficulties of late, and his lyrics perfectly encapsulate this.
Lyrically, the record reveals a whole new dimension to DeMarco the songwriter, ‘Let My Baby Stay’ sees him dealing with the all too real possibility of his girlfriend being deported, backed only by contemplative guitar, as he admits “Far as I can tell she’s happy/Living with and alchy.” The aforementioned ‘Chamber of Reflection’ sees DeMarco expressing a loneliness that had previously been unheard of from him – “No use looking out/It’s within that brings that lonely feeling“. Salad Days is first person storytelling at its very finest, so honestly conveyed that it kills of his goofball character without leaving you disappointed at the loss of old Mac.
While 2 was simply a triumph, Salad Days is the more rounded masterpiece, due to its nature as a well rounded representation of DeMarco’s personality. As a result, even if it doesn’t demonstrate the biggest artistic leap, it represents an extreme personal transformation, without forgoing the qualities which made him so beloved to begin with.