Mac DeMarco - Here Comes the Cowboy - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Mac DeMarco - Here Comes the Cowboy

by Brian Thompson Rating:7 Release Date:2019-05-10
Mac DeMarco - Here Comes the Cowboy
Mac DeMarco - Here Comes the Cowboy

It’s all too easy for Mac DeMarco’s music to drown in the sea of his outlandish public persona, but with his fourth full-length studio album, the attention-seeking jokester appears to have taken a step back. In a recent interview, he said of Here Comes the Cowboy, “With this album, I just made a record. I’m not trying to say anything about anything. I’m taking a back seat. If you wanna listen, you can. If not, that’s okay.” And as such, DeMarco has crafted an album that just sort of piddles around without much of an agenda, as he reflects on the lessons he’s learned so far and takes genuine steps towards growing up.

Here Comes the Cowboy really grows on you. There’s an almost Zen quality to the resolute simplicity of these basement recordings, as DeMarco’s hyperactive sense of humor gives way to fierce sincerity. It’s the kind of record that doesn’t leave much of an immediate impact, but you find yourself humming its songs for days to follow. After the repetitive clippity-clop campfire tune “Here Comes the Cowboy” (which feels more like a prolonged prank than an earnest album opener), DeMarco settles in and gets serious.

That’s not to say that he isn’t having a good time. The understated jungle boogie “Preoccupied” is set to birds chirping and the funky novelty song “Choo Choo” lives up to its preposterous, children's’ song title, for better and for worse. However, the overwhelming majority of the record plays up the minimalist, faux retro sounds of homemade electronica, as with swaying, melancholy “Nobody,” synthwave lounge act “Finally,” and the jazzy keyboard loops of “Heart to Heart.” At any given moment, the 80s-hungry tracks are filled with images of Aqua Net hairspray and unopened cans of Tab.

Here Comes the Cowboy isn’t without DeMarco’s fill of familiar, self-proclaimed “jizz jazz,” but it’s woven into a handful of other styles, rather than standing on its own. “All Of Our Yesterdays” is a poppy, smoldering Oasis tribute and the childlike innocence of static lullaby “Skyless Moon” is dripping with an appreciation for the psychedelic-era Beatles. And of course, he’s still the hopeless sap fans have come to appreciate through his heartfelt ballads, as on tender acoustic reverie “K” and sugary, romantic “Hey Cowgirl,” which feels like an outtake from This Old Dog. By the time we get to the album closer, optimistic art rock sendoff “Baby Bye Bye,” DeMarco takes the time to cycle through all of the various aesthetics he’s hoping to capture with the album.

With each passing album, Mac DeMarco has mellowed out significantly, and Here Comes the Cowboy is his most drastic leap yet. The transition can feel a bit shaky at times, sure, but his new relaxed outlook has provided his music with welcome frankness. At least according to him, he doesn’t care about his image anymore, and so he’s making music for himself, and we’re witnessing him work through his worldview, seemingly in real time. It’s a bit tough to imagine these sparse, repetitive tracks sandwiched into his raucous live set (except for the downplayed garage rock of songs like “Little Dogs March”), and yet there’s something undeniably soothing about imagining DeMarco perform without his trademark smirk.

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