“This Old Dog” has some new tricks



The bellowing chords of“Freaking Out the Neighborhood” from a best friend’s car used to be the only welcoming entity to the nightmare that is a high school parking lot. Five years later, it feels just as great to be a Mac Demarco fan. His third studio album “This Old Dog,” released May 5, clouds your Spotify queue with fragile and fervent themes, backed by self-loving and loathing lyrics and jangle-pop, indie-rock tempos.

Born in British Columbia and raised in Alberta, Demarco’s picking skills were discovered early, being in several bands through his high school career. Consistent, self-produced EP’s landed him notice and the eventual development of his debut album “2” in 2012. 

His cult following, turned a tad mainstream after Target’s use of “Passing Out the Pieces” in an M&M advertisement, prompted the release of his second studio album, “Salad Days,” “Another One,” his 2015 mini EP,  and his third, symbolized by a canary album cover riddled with doodles. The single “This Old Dog,” released in late January, holds like an extension of “My Kind of Woman;” the sea of opportunity is inhabited by plenty of fish, but he’s not in any mindset to recast his line. 

“Often a heart tends to change its mind / A new day decides on a new design / This old dog ain’t about to forget / All we’ve had and all that’s next / Long as my heart’s beating in my chest /This old dog ain’t about to forget.”

Whether it’s about his longterm girlfriend or not, Demarco’s primary circle of muse has revolved around the faintly-existent relationship with his alcoholic, addictive father who marked Demarco as an abandoned child at age five. The album’s first track “My Old Man” sounds as if RAC took their time remixing, but six seconds in, his signature acoustic sound assures. His words mirror the built up emotions felt as his aging reflection stares back at him all too familiarly. Demarco has previously spoken about the nature of their “father-son relationship” and how it isn’t an everyday meeting; but the thought and genetic resemblance of his father is haunting enough to creep into everyday thought. 

“Look in the mirror / Who do you see? / Someone familiar / But surely not me /For he can’t be me / Look how old and cold and tired / And lonely he’s become / Not until you see / There’s a price tag hanging off of having all that fun.”

“Baby You’re Out’s” feel good vibe paired with what sounds like a synthesized cowbell, ensures the life you’re living is one to be cherished, celebrated, and is still unwritten.  “What you voice is what will drive your fate / And old things never really got that bad / Dreaming of green grass’ll drive you mad.”

“One Another” pulls the heartstrings while noting that heartbreak makes a decent lesson. His silver lining from breakups reads “In losing love you gain a friend.” He questions his listeners about how broken they were actually left, heard in “Still Beating.” Some loves may fail, but it doesn’t mean they fail.

“Honey, Icried too / You better believe it / Honey, my heart still beats for you / Even though you don’t feel it.”

Demarco’s simplistic yet cutting sound has been a driving force in his more mainstream rise, earning him sets at big-name festivals including Austin City Limits, The Governor’s Ball, Lollapalooza, and Coachella. Hear “This Old Dog” debut performance at the Greek Theatre,  September 8 in Berkeley.