By Francesca Frankis, Second year History
'A symbolic move away from the psychedelic indie genre that was fostered in his ‘Chamber of Reflection’ era', Francesca Frankis reviews.
Back in 2011 a lesser known Mac Demarco uploaded a music video to youtube titled ‘Joe Buck’, a song named after the character from 1969 film ‘Midnight Cowboy’. It featured the fresh faced Canadian indie prince sporting a cowboy hat and cigarette upon the backdrop of the American flag. ‘I'm a hustler baby’ he proclaimed. It was one of the first tracks Demarco released as Mac Demarco, having previously produced music under the pseudonym, Makeout Videotape. Eight years and five studio albums later and it seems Mac Demarco still hasn't had quite enough of the Old American West.
Here Comes The Cowboy is much quieter than Demarco’s previous records. It is thoughtful and reflective, and a symbolic move away from the psychedelic indie genre that was fostered in his ‘Chamber of Reflection’ era. A move previous album This Old Dog had hinted at a couple of years ago. Reverb drenched vocals and his signature chorused guitars have been swapped out for simpler gentle instrumentals that slowly creep up behind you and evolve as you make your way through the record. One can assume this was in part an attempt to separate himself from the trail of indie artists that have followed in his footsteps in recent years, notably the Bedroom Pop genre.
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Yet for Demarco himself, James Taylor was clearly an important influence on this album, an influence which has permeated throughout previous work too. On some tracks, like ‘On the Square’ it would be difficult to not hear the Taylor-esque lilt in Demarco’s keyboard playing. The second song on the record ‘Nobody’, sees him rummage through some sort of fame related existential baggage, paired with a moody slow paced backing track. Whilst in ‘Finally alone’ Demarco’s Cowboy is ‘Out in the country, tending to all the pretty cattle’, lyrics are sung gracefully over a lullaby like tune. And the farm imagery doesn't stop there; in ‘Hey Cowgirl’ the speaker repeatedly asks ‘Will you stay on the farm?’. The tracks all edge towards the conclusive ‘Baby, bye, bye’, an epic seven minute long finale that slowly transforms from one of the more introspective tracks on the record into a bluesy jazz guitar solo with Demarco sporadically ‘Yeehawing’ over the melody.
Here Comes The Cowboy is well a realised shift towards a more mature and considered musical style for Demarco. It’s a timely departure from the kind of sound he had been playing around with earlier in his career, and it’s clear this Cowboy is just getting started.
Featured Image: Mac Demarco / Mac's Record Label
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