"Salad days" is a phrase that was coined by Shakespeare in the 1606 play Antony and Cleopatra to represent a youthful (or green) time in someone's life. Quoth Cleopatra: "... My salad days, / When I was green in judgment, cold in blood..." Mac DeMarco, a 23-year-old indie rocker who's quite fond of quirky shenanigans, seems to have made the very self-aware observation that he's still in his own salad days by naming his third solo album after the Shakespearean term. Stream Salad Days ahead of its release date, which of course is April Fool's Day, above.
DeMarco's main sonic hallmark, his serpentine guitar playing that's almost as sleazy as his voice, is still stamped all over Salad Days, though he does make a concerted effort to evolve his sound. "I didn't want to freak anybody out with a huge sound change," he said in a recent interview with Exclaim!, "I wanted to transition without changing the vibe too much." He succeeds in that regard on the album, with some woozily psychedelic keyboards adding some new layers to his guitar-driven slacker rock, but never to the extent that they harsh Salad Days' exquisite mellow.
DeMarco eases us into his psychedelic rabbit hole, starting with three songs that could feasibly have popped up on 2, his last album, before launching into the sublime "Let Her Go." The tropicália-tinged song begins sunny and strummy before a short chorus of DeMarco singing "Let her go" and playing regret-laden riff. Here, it's apparent that the tongue has been removed from the cheek and DeMarco's actually leveling with us, something that actually ends up happening a surprising number of times on an album inspired by sophomoric behavior. We get a similar sandals-and-sadness vibe on "Let My Baby Stay," a song that conjures up the image of a sunburnt, shirtless dude sitting on a beach strumming an acoustic guitar, staring wistfully out into the sunset.
"Passing Out Pieces," a previously-released single, is next. This, along with later tracks "Chamber Of Reflection" and "Johnny's Odyssey," is where the keyboards rise up and take over the music. DeMarco's at his spaciest on these tracks, and they are nice changes of pace from Salad Days' more somber offerings. This is the most versatile and mature side we've ever seen of DeMarco, and a sure sign that his hilarious hijinks, though still instrumental in his music, will never come to define his career.