By Austyn Hutchison
Mac Demarco released his newest album “Five Easy Hot Dogs” on January 20th. This album is strikingly different from Mac’s previous releases, in that it is completely instrumental. At first I found this a bit jarring, and it probably isn’t an album I would sit and listen to intently, but it showcases Mac’s musical ability in a new way. During my first listen I was enjoying the music, but the lack of lyrics makes some the songs feel like they drag on a little longer than they should. However, it eventually hit me why I liked his music in the first place: the eclectic and unique sounds, which have not left- merely taken on a new shape. No artist should be expected to sound the same year after year (unless you’re AC/DC), and Mac has proved he is not going to be cornered into one sound.
While giving the album another listen, I tried to imagine what the music made me think of. Rather than telling a story or conveying a message through lyrics, perhaps the music itself is taking that role. When I listen to songs like “Gualala 2” and “Vancouver 3” I get the sense of a mysterious journey. The light percussion and acoustic guitar conjures the image of a jungle, or a mountain forest during a foggy night drive. Perhaps Mac is describing the feelings of each of these locations? We may never know, but it allows our mind's eye to explore and make sense of what we're hearing for itself.
The names of cities throughout the Five Easy Hot Dogs strengthens this sense of travel that I get while listening to the album (which seems like what a couple friends would make around a fire while listening). Demarco brings some funk into the new folky sound with
“Chicago”, one of the last three songs on the album. This song is followed by, you guessed it, “Chicago 2”, a folksy yet notably Mac-style psychedelic jam with a waterfall-like guitar and synth melody that could put one into a trance. Overall, this album is a shift in Mac Demarco’s previous music, but it is by no means a negative one. As I stated before, no artist should be expected to put out music that sounds the same each time, and this album shows how dynamic of a musician Mac Demarco is, going from surfy psychedelic jams to stripped-down, laid-back folk.