>> Moseying onto the scene for the first time in two years since the release of the mellow but saucy 'This Old Dog', indie rock royalty Mac DeMarco returns with a vibe-shift on 'Here Comes the Cowboy'. The project is the first on his own record label and for better or for worse - it shows. The classic tenants of Mac’s sound still shine through in his staple nonchalant and unconcerned attitude; the sonic embodiment of Valium, or a lazy river flowing on a blistering-hot day.
The Good: Points must be awarded for what I truly feel is an excellent album title and wonderful production. A light gallop, the classic cowboy waddle, and the lop-sided, at times goofy spaghetti western aesthetic is all present on the record despite a creepy disposition, particularly in the title track. The vocal and guitar production is especially impressive here - I feel some of his best. Mac clearly put a lot of himself in this record in ways I think will remain a mystery to listeners. Things like his cryptic lyricism and eerie atmosphere will have us puzzling over what shit this cowboy has seen.
Although overall impressive and haunting, less genial parts of this album for me include random explosions of funk that occur over the otherwise placid backdrop of the record. The un-contextualized funk on “Choo Choo” and the end of the “Baby Bye Bye” are confusing and rather unnecessary to me, as I have yet to understand any deeper meaning behind them. Despite the grooviness, the presence of the conflicting vibe just doesn't feel justified.
This album diverges from its older siblings in that Mac’s sound here is high on a different drug - eyes sunken, glazed over, in a sedated malaise that feels eerily suspended in slow-motion time. These vibes are reinforced by choices in instrumentation on the majority of tracks, like synths, keyboards, or slide guitar that feel like heat waves, and the underdressed but emotionally tinged lyrics that punch through and make your head nod. Is Mac feeling emotionally unplugged? Burnt out, and dissociating? Where at first I interpreted these tracks as lazy and unfinished, a second and third listen reveals that DeMarco is communicating a rather difficult-to-describe emotion through a less embellished, more simplistic approach. It’s a somber, soft angst you hear especially on tracks “On The Square”, “Skyless Moon”, “Preoccupied”, and “Nobody”. The atmosphere here makes for a morbidly fascinating listen and begs the question of what headspace Mac was in during the project’s creation. The music videos accompanying some of these tracks will certainly have listeners questioning the same. 2.8/5 <<