Published May 08, 2019For several albums in a row, Mac DeMarco has revealed surprising new intricacies, moving past his slacker image to hone a signature sound that's laidback without being lazy. Along the way, he's inspired countless young sound-alike bands who borrow from his wobbly guitar tones and grubby thrift-store style. Not bad for a goofy dude who famously describes his music as "jizz jazz."
On Here Comes the Cowboy, however, he's chilled out to the point of inertia. Just listen to the throwaway opening track, which features a one-chord country-blues riff and DeMarco drawling the phrase "here comes the cowboy" ad nauseam. It's a cute 30-second joke that drags on for three minutes.
It's a dismal start for an album that's low on ideas. "K" is an acoustic serenade that doesn't have a strong enough melody to justify its barebones arrangement, while the numbingly repetitive funk jam "Choo Choo" is only memorable because of its grandiose gong hit (which, admittedly, is very funny). The slapstick funk finale of "Baby Bye Bye" features a ghastly jumble of "yee-haw" falsettos and grating, cackling laughs.
At its best, the album retreads familiar ground: "Nobody" mixes acoustic balladry with woozy synths à la 2017's This Old Dog, while "On the Square" and "Heart to Heart" revisit the keyboard-driven melancholia of 2015's Another One. They don't match DeMarco's past glories, but they're extremely pretty.
Highlights aside, Here Comes the Cowboy is a disappointing turn from this perpetual overachiever. DeMarco used to be like the class clown who, come exam time, consistently got good grades; now, he sounds like the slacker everyone thought he was in the first place. (Mac's Record Label / Royal Mountain)