Music Review: Mac DeMarco, This Old Dog – it’s a family affair

Canadian lo-fi singer-songwriter Mac DeMarco makes heavy emotion sound typically effortless in his family drama of a third album This Old Dog

With his gap-toothed grin and look of permanent dishevelment Mac DeMarco resembles a man barely able to elevate himself from the couch, much less to the height of headlining festivals, as he will do this summer. It’s a very merited step up for the Canadian lo-fi artist, who seemingly possesses the perfect genetic splice of Bruce Springsteen, Donald Fagen and a career weed dealer.

His third and most mellow full-length album, This Old Dog, maintains Mac’s signature tropes – lazy vocals over queasy-sounding yacht-rock guitars and keyboards – but moves into more personal space with songs addressed to family members, his absentee father in particular. In My Old Man, he cautions himself for slipping into some of his dad’s self-destructive habits, while over wonky electronic piano chords in closer Watching Him Fade Away, he laments fading contact with said old man, if only because it denies him a chance “to tell him off right to his face”.

But it’s Sister, a threadbare one-minute empathetic ode to his sibling that strikes the most tender note. Heavy as it may be, like everything else he does, DeMarco makes it sound practically effortless.