Commonly known as the “crowned prince of indie-rock,” Mac DeMarco is the poster child of the international DIY music scene. Originating from Edmonton, Alberta, DeMarco is a singer-songwriter, producer, and multi-instrumentalist who is somewhat responsible for the increased popularity of the slacker-rock subgenre. Having spawned many clones and imitators, DeMarco has effortlessly placed himself in the music library of anyone who is familiar with his signature jangle-pop style. Self-identified as “jizz-jazz,” DeMarco’s music is a lazy mixture of flat drums, muted bass, pitched vocals, and warbled guitars which serves to create a generally laid-back and stress-free atmosphere.
Releasing his sixth full-length album on May 10th, 2019, DeMarco has exhibited several signature archetypes in his discography. These musical archetypes add to his carefully constructed persona and brand, which is one of goofiness and nonconformity. In the following paragraphs I will detail and explain exactly what these “Mac DeMarchetypes” are…
The first and most noticeable archetype is his use of a photo of himself as an album cover. This pattern began with his first release, Rock and Roll Nightclub, which featured an orange-tinted photo of DeMarco theatrically applying red lipstick. This trend continued with the black-and-white cover of his second release 2. This cover depicts a grinning DeMarco throwing the peace sign and lazily holding a guitar while teal stylized calligraphy reads his name and album title. In an interview video with Amoeba Records in 2014, DeMarco stated that he drew inspiration for the 2 cover from Japanese musician Haroumi Hosono’s Hosono House album cover. The two covers do share a resemblance, both featuring a black-and-white photo of the artist and teal colored text. The cover of DeMarco’s third album, Salad Days, features a shaded DeMarco staring longingly into the camera with scribbly text reading his name and album title. DeMarco’s fourth album, Another One, has a cover which reflects it’s beach-rock sound and vibes, depicting DeMarco crouching on rocky beachfront. DeMarco finishes his use of this archetype with the limited edition release of his fifth album, This Old Dog. The limited edition cover features a short-haired DeMarco standing in front of a white wall as the official album cover (a collage of DeMarco’s doodles) is projected upon him.
Another recurring archetype is an intimate farewell that usually occurs after a brief silent pause at the end of each album. These brief goodbyes are similar to a secret track, offering a special treat to those who stuck around after the album’s conclusion. The first appearance of this archetype is at the end of “Still Together,” the final track on 2. After a short silence DeMarco can be heard setting down his guitar and speaking quietly to his long-time girlfriend Kiera, whom he endearingly refers to as “Kiki.” DeMarco gently wakes her up and comments on her accidentally falling asleep before tenderly telling her “I love you.” The next occurence of this archetype is on the last track of Salad Days, titled “Johnny’s Odyssey,” which follows the precedent set on “Still Together.” After the track ends DeMarco can faintly be heard saying “Hey guys, this is Mac, thanks for listening, buh-bye.”
With Another One, DeMarco continues the trend of speaking to the listener at the end of the record, except with this iteration he reveals some very personal information. Upon the conclusion of “My House On The Water,” DeMarco recits the address of his then-current house in Arverne, New York. He invites the listener over for a cup of coffee and then coyly says “see ya later.” When asked how many people showed up to his house in a Hot Ones interview from 2017, DeMarco’s answer was in the thousands. DeMarco stayed true to this archetype with his newest release Here Comes The Cowboy. At the end of “Baby Bye Bye,” the album’s eclectic and energetic finale, DeMarco shouts “Get along lil doggy!” – keeping in style with the cowboy motif of the record.
Simplistic and acoustic songs about Kiera are another archetype. First occurring on 2 with the love song “Still Together,” this archetype appears on every record since – excluding Another One. “Let My Baby Stay” which appears on Salad Days is a skeletal and bare-bones track concerning Kiera’s unfortunate citizenship status. On This Old Dog, DeMarco changes the audience of his acoustic track titled “Sister,” this time singing to his estranged half-sister. With Here Comes The Cowboy DeMarco switches back to singing to Kiera with the aptly named track “K.”
Even though his most recent record was released just this year, I am excited for his next project and I am interested to see what archetypes he continues to portray in his music.
PS. For those interested check out Mac DeMarco’s Hot Ones interview below. Great video, great artist, great interview. It’s just great.