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Mac Demarco This Old Dog Captured Tracks

Mac DeMarco’s last release, 2015‘s Another One, was variously described as either a mini-LP or a lengthy EP, and the understanding always was that it wouldn’t be until later that we’d get DeMarco’s next album proper. Sure enough, This Old Dog is a more expansive affair on all fronts. Instrumentally, DeMarco has cast his net wider, ranging from piano balladry – One More Love Song – to harmonica-driven ventures into folk, such as A Wolf Who Wears Sheep’s Clothes. Evidence of this more musically adventurous instinct cropped up on 2014’s Salad Days but went missing on Another One. It returns here – the terrifically woozy On the Level feels like the spiritual successor to Chamber of Reflection.

Elsewhere, DeMarco extrapolates thematically; whereas Another One was a pretty straightforward collection of love songs – a tender treatise on heartbreak, resolved – both the opening and closing tracks on This Old Dog address his relationship with his estranged father. It’s deeply affecting stuff and as close to a proper emotional reckoning as he’s ever come on record – a million miles from the boozy frat-boy that he’s cast as in the popular perception. That said, expect his live shows to remain raucous affairs at which his mini-me teenage followers continue to treat him with rock-star reverence; just don’t think that’s all there is to him. As a songwriter, he’s ahead of many of his peers, and This Old Dog is his best record yet.