Mac DeMarco - Five Easy Hot Dogs (Album Review)

Mac DeMarco is no longer in his salad days. Instead, the beatnik lover of vintage sounds and multi-interpretable songs, now in his thirties, has had time to reflect on a life lived at full speed. His new album, the ridiculously-titled "Five Easy Hot Dogs", was recorded during a road trip from LA to Utah, with DeMarco sleeping in motels, hotels, friends' couches, wherever. The provisions were simple, a few guitars, an old Model D, TX7, some haphazardly assembled drums. Turns out Mac found beauty on his travels; a familiar and innocent type of beauty occasionally found hanging on hotel walls or the soundtrack of an old movie. 

In a world that seems increasingly not alright, perhaps a vagabond musician traversing a country in reverse, hours spent in various curtained rooms layering retro instruments, is a perfect response to the zeitgeist. DeMarco ruminates on what stability means in a constantly changing world, finding comfort in simplicity and repetition. The album boldly forgoes the wry observations of a twisted world by someone too clever to fall for the illusion. Instead, DeMarco creates his own illusion; music that acts like moulding clay for the world and not vice-versa. 

Using the names of places where he recorded as song titles lends an invitatory element to the collection, as if DeMarco is breaking down any mystique that may surround these instrumental songs, which otherwise offer little clues or cues to the listener. Despite the pieces being sequenced chronologically, they rarely change in style or pace with their geographic counterparts, the only change of theme is that DeMarco apparently had some excellent coffee in Chicago.

At first glance, Five Easy Hot Dogs feels like DeMarco is trolling everyone by phoning it in with muzak that lacks any edge, passion or care, a tedious and yawn-inducing bore. It is this, but it's also the type of music that would play wonderfully in record shops, weed dispensaries, and between acts at venues. For more focused listening, this road trip album might need a few laps before its charm is apparent.