This Old Dog is the third studio album from Canadian singer Mac DeMarco. With this album, DeMarco pairs the distinctive “jangle-pop” of his previous releases, with some of his most compelling lyrics to date. As a result, it stands as one of his best releases in years.
In this project, Mac DeMarco reflects on life, family and lost dreams. On the opening track ‘My Old Man’, he is grappling with the feeling of seeing his father’s bad traits show up in himself. His difficult relationship with his father is also the subject on the closing track ‘Watching Him Fade Away’, where he sings about his conflicting feelings about seeing his father falling ill. Many tracks on This Old Dog delve into themes of picking oneself up, and putting things in perspective. DeMarco flips between singing in first and second person, making it difficult to gauge whether he is being his own mental coach, or a friend offering advice. However, what seems like introspection from the otherwise fun and carefree DeMarco, is the most interesting aspect of this album.
Overall it feels like he has prioritised consolidation of the elements that worked on his past albums, rather than pushing his musical boundaries.
Musically, This Old Dog will be familiar to DeMarco fans: its innovations are not ground-breaking and his sound is unmistakeable. The introduction of synthesizers on Salad Days, continues on This Old Dog. Alongside the synth ballad ‘For the First Time’, synths and organ are persistent elements throughout the track list. Some noticeable addition to DeMarco’s style is the use of drum machine, featuring prominently on ‘My Old Man’, and the harmonica on ‘A Wolf Who Wears Sheeps Clothes’. While some innovations have taken place since we last heard from DeMarco, the “jangley” guitar leads remain his main distinguishing feature. Overall it feels like he has prioritised consolidation of the elements that worked on his past albums, rather than pushing his musical boundaries.
This Old Dog is a solid return from Mac Demarco. It shows him maturing as an artist, through the fine-tuning of his sound, and him evolving as a song writer.
The album is out May 5th.