The hype for Mac Demarco’s 2, released on hot-shit label Captured Tracks, began when “My Kind of Woman” was released as a single this past summer. The song is an immediate mix-tape staple that saw Demarco doing his version of a prom song. It’s a messy track that wants to break apart with every drawled out syllable, but instead tapes together verses and choruses into one of the best tracks of the year. 2, like “My Kind of Woman,” is a beautiful mess, another descendant of Slanted and Enchanted’s slacker doctrine.
2 isn’t the first Demarco release this year, that was the much creepier and sleazier Rock and Roll Night Club. An even more fucked album then 2, Rock and Roll Night Club features Demarco screwing his voice into a lower register. The songs are good, but most seem half-formed, and he’s admitted he finds most of the songs “very funny” in interviews. There’s a stronger sense of the stories he wants to tell now, starting with the first track, “Cooking Up Something Good.” It presents a dysfunctional family alongside a jaunty guitar line. There’s Mom cooking drugs in the kitchen and Dad passed out on the couch. Demarco does his best to keep a lid on the seeping frustration of not being able to escape this home in stasis, “Oh when life moves this slowly/oh just try and let it go.”
That dissatisfaction is flipped in “Freaking Out The Neighborhood,” an apology to a very different Mom than the one appearing in “Cooking Up Something Good.” This time Demarco is the one “up to no good,” claiming he’ll be the same when he gets home after gettin’ in to who knows what kind of trouble in the big city while his Mom’s worried about him back home. Demarco’s not afraid of his guitar, and you can hear quite a bit of Alex Chilton and Jonathan Richman in his guitar lines. It sounds like a second vocal track on “Freaking Out The Neighborhood,” meandering around his empty promises to his Mom.
Demarco’s got the usually enviable reputation as a crooner because of the low affected voice on Rock and Roll Night Club,but Demarco is adamant that it’s a misnomer. Interviewed by his friend in an unguarded interview with Hearty Magazine, he claims, “I don’t want to write sexy music, I want to write sweet music…I have had a girlfriend for two years, so I’m not interested in making people swoon.” It seems“Annie” and “My Kind of Woman” work as companions, love songs to his sweetheart. “Annie knows how I’m feelin’/and gives me a healin’,” Demarco sings on “Annie.” While the catchy merry-go-wrong sound of “My Kind of Woman” repeats the song title, after he croaks half-defeated “And it just don’t make sense to me/I really don’t know/why you stick right next to me/wherever I go.” After the demented pop of Rock and Roll Night Club and an excellent film-noir(y) “Ode to Viceroy,” it’s surprising to see Demarco get serious. Yet, these are the most assured songs in his catalog. They’re made for slow dances in grubby basements, slowly swaying over stale beer and cigarettes.