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Mac Demarco - Here Comes The Cowboy - LP -

Price per Unit (stuk): €24.95

Mac DeMarco’s lackadaisical balladry has long boasted a lyrical economy that feels almost Beatlesesque – simple, relatable observations that echo through a song until they acquire a subtle profundity. Yet on the titular opener to his fourth album, the Canadian singer-songwriter takes his linguistic minimalism one step further. “Here comes the cowboy,” drawls DeMarco over and over again, above a backdrop of dour Americana – his gravelly, near-the-mic delivery initially injecting the line with a threatening edge, before the incessant repetition (there are no other lyrics) causes the song to crumble into inanity. The result resembles an in-joke that feels almost impossible to decipher – and one you imagine wouldn’t be particularly rewarding even if you did.

DeMarco has always operated in a tonal hinterland. He matches gorgeous, heartfelt confections that seamlessly merge early indie, 90s alt-rock and classic 70s singer-songwriter fare – Orange Juice meets the Lemonheads meets Harry Nilsson – with a post-ironic slacker persona who covers Limp Bizkit and plays the Top Gun theme for 20 minutes during a gig. On Here Comes the Cowboy, however, those madcap antics begin to seep into his usually winsome songcraft. Some tracks, such as K and Finally Alone, do still cleave gratifyingly to his previous formula (although none get anywhere near the brilliance of back catalogue highlights such as Salad Days and My Old Man). Yet others feel underpinned by a snicker – Baby Bye Bye, a slide-guitar-dominated ditty that descends into wry yee-hawing and wacky funk jam Choo Choo, which features a cartoonish gong sound, among them.

Here Comes the Cowboy initially attracted criticism when its similarities with Mitski’s 2018 album Be the Cowboy – including the fact that both feature a track called Nobody – were pointed out on social media. Whether or not it was merely an unfortunate coincidence, that name-duplication isn’t this record’s real flaw. That turns out – like its maker’s sense of humour – to be more amorphous: an air of self-indulgence characterised by an alienating kind-of comedy. Here Comes the Cowboy may retain some of the disarming simplicity and emotional universality that has become DeMarco’s trademark, but it is ultimately an album that fails to welcome the listener warmly into its world.

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