While chronologically following on from 2019’s mixed bag ‘Here Comes the Cowboy’, Mac DeMarco’s latest psyched-out slacker numbers share more DNA with his transient mini-albums. Brief in length despite the fourteen numbers on offer, and entirely instrumental, ‘Five Easy Hot Dogs’ feels like a palette cleanser of an album, a transitional bunch of grooves that needed a home before DeMarco moved onto a grander project – and to be fair, that’s exactly what they’re meant to be. Strangely invoking the spirit of the Foo Fighters’ 2014 album, ‘Sonic Highways’, this latest album sees our Canadian cult star take to the road, crashing at motels, hotels, and houses with a box of instruments in tow. The results are fourteen dreamy vignettes named after the city in which the track was produced.
Beginning in California and ending in Utah, DeMarco admits he had no grand plan or theme for his travel odyssey. Finishing his trip early after a night spent in an isolated cabin yearning for nicotine, he rushed back to L.A. early, feeling his idea had been a failure. Once back home, though, the multi-instrumentalist was happy to find that the tracks he’d managed to cobble together shared a musical identity. These are numbers for the aimless wanderer, a soundtrack for those with no particular place to go. It’s for the good-time gals and guys who simply desire to see where the day takes them.
This latest set from DeMarco is hardly essential listening and, in all honesty, could have been an E.P., but there is, as ever, a laid-back charm you can’t quite ignore. These are jams for hazy summer days, country drives, or smoke sessions. Sometimes it’s important to remember that not all music has to promote a big, bold message. It’s more often than not used to just vibe to, and ‘Five Easy Hot Dogs’ is certainly chock full of those. Over bouncing bass lines, wonky synths, and his signature guitar tone, songs like ‘Crescent City’ and ‘Victoria’ bring the mellow big time. With nearly every song coming in at under three minutes, nothing overstays its welcome nor makes a giant impression. They just drift on by.
‘Five Easy Hot Dogs’ isn’t going to win DeMarco any more fans, nor will it distract from his past triumphs. After all, this is an artist who’s always happily shared his demos, offcuts, and anything else lying around in his musical pantry. This instrumental offering will, like most of his tunes, act as great company for those who just wanna lay back and disconnect from it all.
Words: Sam Walker-Smart