De Perros y Gatos – MAC DEMARCO: This old dog (Captured Tracks, 2017)

Mac Demarco se mueve ya en su tercer álbum. Ha pasado el tiempo para todos pero su música sigue manteniendo ese encanto entre lo Kitsch y el Neo-out-folkie aderezado con esas pinceladas que nos recuerda al sonido más LoFi (aunque su disco posee una producción más que cuidada).
Trece nuevas canciones que nos llevan, casi sin darnos cuenta, por una aparente intranscendencia que, sin embargo, nos deja una huella indeleble con cortes como los que abren este Viejo Perro: My old man, This old dog; sin duda emparentadas, y que, a puestos a buscar referencias, me hacen fijarme en aquellos discos de Neil Young (también canadiense) en los que se dejaba llevar por una faceta más acústica en su sonido, y hablo de la época Harvest. This Old Dog es un trabajo con ciertos altibajos, pero que en su conjunto, ofrece una impresión más que notable.
Me Gustan: On the level, This old dog, My old man.

“This approach brings to mind singer-songwriters of an earlier era, particularly iconoclasts like Harry Nilsson, Randy Newman, and JJ Cale. The title track brings to mind Little Joy in its unhurried and confident sense of swing, and DeMarco’s natural warmth and weariness shine through. “Baby You’re Out” tumbles beautifully through its chord changes like a soccer ball falling down a stairwell that manages to hit every fourth step. “One Another” twinkles like an earlier generation’s soda jingle, with a little slouch that invites finger snaps with every backbeat. If 2 brought to mind a dank basement, the best songs here throw open the windows and let in the sunshine.
The move to a more “classic” sound suits DeMarco’s music, and it’s also a reminder that what at first glance seems like laziness might actually be brutal efficiency. On a casual listen, DeMarco seems to kick back and let everything fall into place, but his music demonstrates a relentless devotion to craft, with all the fundamentals intact. Each melodic shift, every turnaround on the chords during the choruses, every bridge—all are exactly where they should be. Even though they are not derivative, you swear you’ve heard them before because they show such a proficiency for songwriting structure.
By now, DeMarco has mastered the art of recording, at least within the parameters he’s established for himself. In addition to playing every instrument, he produced and engineered This Old Dog, and the arrangements are minimal and impeccable. His voice is recorded bone-dry to enhance his conversational tone—he sounds like he’s never more than a barstool away. The bass and drums are so locked-in they seem like a single instrument. Every brush of acoustic guitar sounds like it’s coming from right in front of you, and when he cuts loose on his electric and gets spacier, as he does during a gnarly freak-out that serves as the coda to the lengthy “Moonlight on the River,” the textures are both rich and thematically appropriate.
There’s a longstanding idea in pop songwriting that, depending on how the words are delivered, you can say a great deal with clichés, and DeMarco’s approach to lyrics has always been disarming in its simplicity. A great deal of what has been called “indie rock” thrives on being elliptical and obtuse—think Stephen Malkmus, a slacker guitar hero from an earlier generation who has some surface-level similarity with DeMarco, but never wanted to give too much away. You never knew exactly what Malkmus was singing about; Mac’s approach to words is more akin to a highway billboard, short and sweet enough to be heard when driving by at 75 MPH. A song like “My Old Man” takes a common sentiment (“Looks like I’m seeing more of my old man in me”) but DeMarco’s unvarnished approach helps these mundane observations land, and those who know something about his life and his troubled relationship with his father get an extra layer of meaning. Sometimes the words are pure boilerplate (“My heart still beats for you,” “A wolf who wears sheep’s clothes”) but since low-key craft is the order of the day, “mechanical” isn’t such a damning adjective.
There’s nothing particularly wrong with This Old Dog, it’s more that DeMarco is keeping his sights low. Some people might appreciate this record more than his last two, with the extra refinement of the sound, others may prefer the earlier stuff, which had a bit more humor and with lyrics that painted more colorful pictures. It’s a push. DeMarco’s problem, if you can call it that, is a good one to have—he owns his sound and continues to write songs that fit within it. For DeMarco and his audience both, all joy depends on this comfort” (Pitchfork)

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