Straying from the Singularity: New Releases from Mac DeMarco and Yeek
I’m an average passionate music listener; I listen to what I think is catchy, I listen to specific genres depending on my mood, and I try to make time to listen to new releases from artists that I follow. Music is an asset in my life, but it isn’t a core component. And although there are often times where I like to feel that I’m fake deep and intelligent in the machinations of what makes a song “good,” the truth is that my thoughts never tend to stray past: “Um, this chorus has a real hook to it.” However, this past weekend saw new albums from two artists that I personally adore, which are indie sensation Mac DeMarco and underground alternative Yeek. Both of their albums, Here Comes the Cowboy and EP IDK WHERE, respectively signify departures from what I consider are the essential sounds for both of the artists. Where one succeeds, the other tends to stumble, and the successor might not be who you think it is.
Mac DeMarco is a indie icon— there’s no two ways about it. He’s arguably the most mainstream indie artist on the charts right now. It’s hard to find someone in that scene who hasn’t at least heard about him. He’s made waves across the music landscape with hits off of his sophomore album, 2, such as the slow and romantic track, “My Kind of Woman,” and the fast-paced surf/rock track, “Freaking Out the Neighborhood.” Not to mention, his possibly most popular album, Salad Days, which presented his number one song, “Chamber of Reflection,” featured moody and depressing synths. It’s probably the one song that’s on every sad boy’s “depression” Spotify playlist. Mac DeMarco is a legend in terms of the current indie music scene for good reasons: he’s had multiple hits and is a favorite among even the most casual of mainstream listeners. That makes it much more sad to say that his latest album, Here Comes the Cowboy, just doesn’t do it for me. It’s not a bad album by any means, as even the worst album in the world is still bearable. The move to feature more of his acoustic style and focus on a soft-spoken singing voice is bold and certainly seems to fit DeMarco’s overall MO. However, none of the the songs featured on the new album seem to really pull you into his world like previous singles of his did. They all tend to meld together into one uninteresting sound that doesn’t quite do it for me. Of course, that’s not to say that DeMarco isn’t allowed to experiment with his sound and stray from what he deems has become too comfortable for him. After all, that kind of drive is what allows artists to evolve and hone in on their craft, but that just doesn’t come through on Here Comes the Cowboy— which almost sounds like a country album at certain points.
Yeek, on the other hand, is what I like to call “anti-surf rock.” The South Florida to LA traveler is characteristic in his somber lyrics about heartbreak, drug use, and loneliness; all packaged in some heavy electric guitar riffs and crisp percussion. Songs, like “Only in the West,” “Shake,” and “Seven,” off of his 2017 album, Sebastian, deal with a range of subject matter, while maintaining what only he described as a dark reflection of the West Coast aesthetic. This distinct sound and style of songwriting has been present even since his beginnings, with the song titled “I’m Not Ready” off of his debut album, Love Slacker, discussing his commitment issues. Yet, it seems all of that is changing with his new EP, IDK WHERE. Something must have happened to the Filipino-American artist because suddenly his lyrics have morphed into a sunnier and happier time where Yeek openly discusses his emotional side on songs, like “Cleaner Air” and “Too Fast.” The sound has changed to be slightly more upbeat and fast-paced to reflect this new mood change, but they still somehow sound uniquely “Yeek.” The indie bad boy seems to have cleaned up his act, and while this divergence from what might be deemed as his gimmick that would usually crash and burn, I find myself drawn to it just as much as his old material.
Now, this isn’t meant to come off as an article in which I put down Mac DeMarco in order to elevate Yeek’s social status, because that’s definitely not the case. I still love both artists and will continue to follow their discographies until they retire. However, I do believe that DeMarco could use a little more time back at the drawing board when he decides to start production on his next release. As Here Comes the Cowboy seemed like too much of a stray from the norm, while keeping none of what attracted some of his fans in the first place. Meanwhile, IDK WHERE showcased that Yeek is much more than just a West Coast sad boy, and still has room to expand his horizons and venture into new territory. Then again, what do I know? I’m just an average passionate music listener.
-Derek Luat Tran