Saturday, May 23, 2020

Here Comes the Cowboy (2019)

Mac DeMarco's deceptively lazy style—it's always 4 a.m. on this sweetheart and more like he doesn't want to bother the neighbors—delivered a surprising winner for me on his sixth album. Wait, what, sixth album? I've never heard of the guy. Well, that's to be expected with me. Extravagant comparisons are another weakness. If my first infatuation from Here Comes the Cowboy, "Nobody," is not really some lost track from The Velvet Underground, it still sounds like it might be, if Jimmy Buffett had been sitting in. My next infatuation, "On the Square," is more brooding and poignant, a stately thing moving on a lovely melancholy melody that trudges tenderly across a desert of sand directly to your heart. Thus emboldened by these fortunate finds (thank you again, social media!) I turned to the album and found a third infatuation: "Finally Alone," which is a gorgeous pop confection in the Lindsay Buckingham mode (if Engelbert Humperdinck had been sitting in), working even across the hushed funereal context of this album, with dippy-doopy keyboard flourishes and DeMarco working the power of the aching falsetto. I appreciate the sentiments of the lyrics too, which are about the pleasures of the getaway—by yourself. It's about that moment when you step into the hotel room—as we will again someday—and realize no one can reach you, you are safe and contained, and all the conveniences are at hand. It's time. Let go with that tender falsetto. Now you feel it. Of course, all that's also already there in the title for those of us who know. So with 23% of its 13 songs staked out as verified winners I went ahead and spent more time with the album. There's more to like there, though it turned out I had plumbed the best: there are goofy workups involving little dogs and choo-choo trains, some unexplained Western themes in "Hey Cowgirl" and the title song (contrasted with DeMarco's origins in B.C., Canada, and a habit of wearing ballcaps), more pop details, more aches and tender bruises, nothing absolutely coherent but everything quite affable and low-key and the production values crisp and high. In fact, crisp and high might be the recommended approach and end result of 3 a.m. appointments with this particular keeper.

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