Mac DeMarco's new album, "Five Easy Hot Dogs," misses the mark in many ways and is an overwhelmingly boring and forgettable slog to listen through.
DeMarco, an indie musician from Duncan, Canada, is more often known for the rock-inspired roots shown on his previous albums such as “2” and “Salad Days.”
With DeMarco’s most recent project, “Five Easy Hot Dogs,” he goes in a completely different direction from all of his previous albums.
This is not always a bad thing, as an artist has to take chances and experiment with new things in order to grow.
A good example of this is Tyler Okonma, better known as Tyler, the Creator, who transitioned from a harsh sound with dark and borderline psychotic lyrics to a much brighter sound with emotionally vulnerable lyrics.
Okonma’s “Cherry Bomb” served as the transition album between his old and new sound, and remains one of his more divisive projects because of some of the directions that he took with the sound.
Okonma shows a successful pivot in direction as an artist, while Demarco’s attempt just falls completely flat and doesn’t offer him much opportunity to grow.
Each song is named after a city where DeMarco live-recorded it. An example of this is “Chicago” and “Victoria.”
The album is also entirely instrumental, which is another big departure from the zany and introspective lyrics of Demarco’s older songs.
The instrumental tracks mirror the lo-fi genre in their sound, but they all miss some of the core aspects that make lo-fi enjoyable. Soothing, dreamy sounds are present on the album, which are characteristic of lo-fi, but the lack of varied instruments makes it seem more like white noise than anything else.
The use of the same few instruments — likely because the album was recorded entirely on the road — is one of the biggest reasons the tracks are so forgetful. Because so few are used, they all mush together into one big song.
This makes the naming scheme of the songs confusing, as despite being named after different cities, they are all almost identical in sound. They all could have been named after the first song, “Portland,” and there would have been no difference at all.
All of this coming from DeMarco is disappointing. He has the ability to create good songs, as was seen in some of his earlier work, and yet this album hardly reflects that.
DeMarco’s older albums all have an identity to them. Each song is memorable in some aspect. Whether it be his guitar or his lyrics, something always stood out.
“Ode to Viceroy,” a song from “2,” is about DeMarco’s favorite brand of cigarettes. This song has such a unique identity through its slow yet piercing guitar. The lyrics are almost bittersweet, as DeMarco talks so happily about his smoking even though he knows that it’ll kill him one day. Just these two elements, the guitar and lyrics, make it so distinct to DeMarco.
This is completely lost in “Five Easy Hot Dogs.” There is not a single song on this album that can be identified for its unique sound or even really be tied to DeMarco. Each song is something that you’d listen to while doing chores to forget where you are, not something you’d listen to so you can feel any emotion besides apathy.
If you want to listen to DeMarco, choose any other album besides this one. “Five Easy Hot Dogs” doesn’t show the talent that DeMarco has when it comes to making music.
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