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“This Old Dog” album review

%22The+Old+Dog%22+by+Mac+Demarco+album+cover.+Photo+from+https%3A%2F%2Fmacdemarco.bandcamp.com%2Falbum%2Fthis-old-dog

"The Old Dog" by Mac Demarco album cover. Photo from https://macdemarco.bandcamp.com/album/this-old-dog

"The Old Dog" by Mac Demarco album cover. Photo from https://macdemarco.bandcamp.com/album/this-old-dog

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In 2009, Mac DeMarco released his EP “Heat Wave,” initiating a whole new era of music; lo-fi, a subgenre of the psychedelic rock genre.  And now on May 5, DeMarco released his new album, “This Old Dog,” his first LP release since the critically acclaimed “Salad Days” in 2014.
“This Old Dog” marks a departure from DeMarco’s previous work.  Although the album is predominantly characterized by a copious amount of synths, much like in his preceding albums, “This Old Dog” adopts more acoustic and jazzy elements than does the very intensive psychedelic style marked in previous works of his.

“My Old Man,” the first track in the album, really sets the tone of the album: a soft rock style of music assisted by synths.  It blends well into the title track, “This Old Dog,” which is similar to the preceding track but much more melancholic stylistically.  

DeMarco picks up the tempo of the album again with “Baby You’re Out,” but still opts for the lighter tone.  This track gets a bit boring, as much of the variation of the preceding tracks came from the use of synths, which this track lacks.  “For the First Time,” the next track in the album, is more interesting in this regard.

That seems to be a common element throughout this album: the guitar riffs are boring because they become repetitive.  Most of the tracks are quite boring until they start to rely on the traditional DeMarco psychedelic synths and riffs that DeMarco is so used to making.

In this regard, the fifth track, “One Another,” lags in the beginning but starts to pick up near the end.

“Still Beating” is boring, and “Sister” relies completely on the vocals, which I personally am not a big fan of.

“Dreams From Yesterday,” however, is an excellent song.  It is extremely jazzy, light and relaxing, and makes an excellent use of the synth.  Although a simple tune, the synth adds layer to the melody; this is mostly a vocal-driven track.

“A Wolf Who Wears Sheep’s Clothes” is an interesting combination of folk, jazz and light psychedelic elements.

“One More Love Song” follows this song, and harks more back to the jizz jazz style that DeMarco is famous for; however, it is still a very light, jazzy tune. The instrumentation is way more layered in portions of this track than in most other parts of the album; it is definitely the best song on ”This Old Dog.”

The following track, “On the Level,” is boring, however.  There is little variation in tone throughout the song.

If “On the Level” was one of the more boring songs on the album, “Moonlight on the River” is certainly one of the more interesting ones.  It starts out as a simple folk tune, and it seems that is all it’s going to be: as with many tracks in this album, it predominantly focuses on the vocal aspect, only utilizing simple acoustic riffs and drum beats.  Near the end of the song, though, the band takes prominence and distorts the track into a psychedelic, trippy mess. Excellent.

“Watching Him Fade Away” doesn’t offer much, but it serves as a decent ending track.

“This Old Dog” is a good album.  That is, it’s good; it’s not great, it’s not interesting and it’s not very novel.  It doesn’t offer what most would expect from a DeMarco album, and it certainly disappoints in that aspect.  Although it’s nice to see DeMarco try something new, he didn’t really offer anything that hasn’t been done before.  Add this all up with an extensively mediocre track list (with only a few “gems”), and all that is left is something easily forgotten.  This album gets a 6/10.

“This Old Dog” can be purchased for download from bandcamp for $9.99.

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“This Old Dog” album review