“Here Comes the Cowboy” marks a shift to minimalism for Mac DeMarco

The gap-toothed goofball contrasts his class clown persona with his new self-reflective album.


Ben Hobbs, Writer

Often called the prince of indie rock, Mac DeMarco has pioneered the genre and molded it into what it is today. Springing out of the gate with his debut mini-LP “Rock and Roll Nightclub,” and then his sophomore album, “2,” DeMarco stole the hearts of fans looking for something different. He made a name for himself with his jangly, chorus-laden guitars, silky smooth vocals and trademark gapped tooth smile. Coupled with his quick start, DeMarco’s unbound energy, his fast paced, guitar-heavy music helped to pioneer the indie genre and define new standards of quality. After DeMarco, music soaked in shoegaze effects exploded in popularity and sparked a movement in the industry.

As Demarco has developed as an artist, his style has shifted more and more to acoustic ballad-esque music. The once energetic, wacky musician has found himself growing more mellow throughout his career. The emotional gradient throughout his discogragraphy is apparent, as he becomes more reflective and laid-back.

Many fans were disappointed with his third full length LP, “This Old Dog,” due to its low energy and acoustic influence. “This Old Dog,” featured several songs about DeMarco’s experiences with growing older and reflecting on his relationship with his estranged father, who left him when he was young. A lot of DeMarco fans, who enjoyed “2” and “Salad Days,” liked them for the electric guitar and synth heavy tunes, and “This Old Dog,” didn’t feature that in the same prominence as his first four albums did. However, this album made it clear that Mac was beginning to make music that he wanted to make, not the music his fans wanted him to make.

“Here Comes the Cowboy,” continues this trend, where he strips back every aspect of his music. Some songs on this album are incredibly simple, like the opener, “Here Comes the Cowboy,” or the mid-album jam session “Choo Choo.” The rest of the album is filled with heartfelt acoustic ballads that reflect on Mac himself, his love life and more. To strip down the instrumentation this far away from one’s past works may not be successful for just anybody, but DeMarco finds a perfect balance, and on “Here Comes the Cowboy,” it really works.

Lyrically, “Here Comes the Cowboy” presents some of DeMarco’s best works. Out of the many love songs in his discography, “K,” dedicated to DeMarco’s long-time girlfriend Kiera McNally, is one of his best. The songs “Preoccupied” and “Skyless Moon” also boast his lyrical prowess.

Recorded in his garage-turned-studio, “Here Comes the Cowboy,” has a more intimate feel than most of his past work. “Nobody,” talks about how DeMarco feels as if he’s a creature looked at on television, always observed by the public eye. He sings, “There’s no turning back to nobody, there’s no second chance, no third degree.” He wishes to be able to fade into obscurity to become a nobody once more, where he won’t be on display. While talking about the contents of “This Old Dog,” Demarco said, “Now it’s on a scale where there’s a lot of people reading your diary. Kinda weird.”

In an effort to break away from his typical song structure, DeMarco set out to make a record that was “Perfectly Imperfect,” however, he said he found himself unhappy with the way it was panning out during an interview with “Huck Magazine.”

“The concept of the record was that I didn’t wanna make a perfect record,” DeMarco said. “Then I got into this circle where I was trying to perfect something that was supposed to be imperfect – perfectly crappy… I haven’t even listened to it since I made it so I don’t remember what it sounds like.”

Many songs on “Here Comes the Cowboy” show a new side of DeMarco’s musical talent. A couple songs repeat the same phrase over and over, and the closing track, “Baby Bye Bye,” is a sonic odyssey, going from ballad, to fun, repetitive chanting, to DeMarco shouting “Yeehaw” and screaming. He expresses his unique songwriting on this record, and it makes it shine in his discography.

The stripped down, laid back atmosphere of “Here Comes the Cowboy” may not be for everybody, but it holds a special place among the rest of his albums. As DeMarco has matured as a person, his music, too, has gained a sophistication about it. DeMarco has gone from making music for fans to making something he truly cares about for himself, and it shows. The labor and love that DeMarco put into this project is apparent, and the value added to the music because of this is immense.