DeMarco leads indie rock with new album release

By Peter Zemeske

Indie rock’s slacker darling Mac DeMarco returns with a follow-up to 2017’s “This Old Dog” with “Here Comes the Cowboy,” released May 10. The first buzz surrounding the album was the similarity in title to indie rock peer Mitski’s 2018 record “Be the Cowboy.”

In addition to title likeness, both albums have singles called “Nobody,” adding to comparisons and opposition from Mitski fans on Twitter. DeMarco said he had no idea who Mitski was when he named the album and single, according to an April 8 interview with Huck Magazine. These days DeMarco can’t seem to catch a break, hard as he tries.

The scrutinized single “Nobody” sounds like it picked up right where “This Old Dog” ended, with “Watching Him Fade Away.” The tracks have the same downbeat and somber quality, a tone more prevalent in DeMarco’s music as of late. “Nobody” deals with fame that isn’t necessarily welcome. DeMarco paints himself as a “creature” formed by public view, he no longer has the option to become a “nobody,” someone without a reputation.

Preceding “Nobody” is the title track, “Here Comes the Cowboy,” a felicitous nod to the western theme. “Little Dogs March” revives themes from “This Old Dog” in that DeMarco sees himself as an aging troubadour who should maybe hang up the hat. DeMarco breaks up the self-deprecating mood with “Choo Choo,” a track that takes a blues rock intermission complete with wooden train whistle intertwined.

DeMarco pays tribute to his longtime girlfriend Kiera McNally on “K,” a sweet acoustic guitar and voice combo sure to please. He mourns the death of Mac Miller on “Heart to Heart.” DeMarco had grown close to Miller before his death in September 2018 of a mixed drug overdose.

“Walking parallels, heart to heart,” DeMarco sings. “To all the days we were together / to all the time we played apart / in each other’s lives, heart to heart.”

A major highlight and thematic statement of the album is “All of Our Yesterdays,” a reflection of good and bad times gone by and using those times to grow in a positive direction. “Here Comes the Cowboy” doesn’t have the upbeat swing of albums past. What it does have is a self-aware vulnerability, played in a subdued manner.

DeMarco looks back on 10 years of writing and playing music and finds himself at the forefront of modern indie rock, a place he never assumed to be nor wanted to. Despite his position, he doesn’t feel confident. The 29 year old Canadian native is continually growing in his profession, “Here Comes the Cowboy” reflects his perspective on his walk of life. It may seem bleak, but hidden in the message is hope.