This Old Dog / Captured Tracks
CULTURE COLLIDE GRADE: 83
Throughout his career, the charismatic Mac DeMarco has offered his listeners much more than a discography full of timeless lo-fi slacker rock — his music curates reassurance and peace of mind. With his latest project, he gifts viewers with a warm sweater making everything about life’s grueling nature worthwhile. But as This Old Dog, presses on, he unravels this sweater thread by thread, so listeners can gradually experience his cold reality — a reality accented by a struggling relationship with his sick father.
Mac’s latest release is intimate and gorgeous from start to finish. As each song progresses from the opening track of “My Old Man,” his lyrics manifest into something utterly genuine, and more introspective and honest than anything he has ever produced.
The introspective DeMarco opens up the album by observing the physical similarities between him and his father, but the comparisons essentially stop there. This Old Dog’s writing still emits some positivity like his prior releases, but there is a slight touch of dissonance given the lyrical content. When the album gets to“Sister,” the warm start to the album declines and becomes more melancholic and real — a side we have yet to really experience from him.
This wistfulness descends into “Moonlight On The River,” where Mac’s remorse is on full display. The track depicts him attempting to reconcile with the inevitable death of his sickly father. He struggles to say goodbye, but these struggles feel so raw and pure. With “Watching Him Fade Away,” we once again hear Mac’s pains of trying to connect to his father. However, this track cuts deeper than any other on the album — juxtaposing the physical parallels expressed in “My Old Man.” The only instrument at this point is an icy synth. He drops the warmth provided by his guitar playing. Thus, all of his emotional walls have crumbled. In this This Old Dog, he strips down his iconic exuberant attitude, especially with this last track — possibly the most vulnerable point of his musical career.
This Old Dog flaunts Mac’s true essence. It is beautiful, depressing and strangely hopeful. The subtle transition of mood in This Old Dog is a cathartic feeling that we all needed from the usually charismatic, DeMarco.