I’ve lived in Texas my whole life— the perceived cowboy capital of the world— so images of horses clopping down our highways or visiting the stockyards are commonly portrayed in the media when talking about our state.
But it seems like all of a sudden I’m seeing cowboys everywhere, from Kacey Musgraves’ seemingly sudden stardom to Lil Nas X’s “Old Town Road.”
On May 10, Mac DeMarco joined the rodeo when he released his fourth studio album, “Here Comes the Cowboy.”
To many, the album may seem to be just another pseudo-country collection of guitar chords, but for fans of DeMarco the title could be worrying: is this a departure from the self-proclaimed “jizz jazz” the artist’s known for?
However, fans have no need to worry— “Here Comes the Cowboy” is definitely similar to DeMarco’s older albums, although he leaves behind the mix of multiple instruments or crazy sound effects and keeps his acoustic guitar close instead, paired with a few birds tweeting or intermittent drum beats.
In my opinion, this approach suits DeMarco. Because of the simplicity of the songs, I feel like I’m meandering through a field, relaxing on a lazy day while listening my way through the album. I’ve always associated DeMarco with a calming feeling, but “Here Comes the Cowboy” is living proof that if he was half-asleep on his older albums, he’s fully dozing by now.
“Here Comes the Cowboy” opens with a track of the same name, a banjo-filled, husky repetition of those same four words 10 times over. The song may seem catchy and enticing in the first few seconds, but after three minutes I was already concerned for the rest of the album.
However, DeMarco reignited my hope with “Nobody,” the second track and the first single he released when announcing the album. “Nobody” is the first true evidence of the bareboned approach DeMarco took on the album, and he succeeded.
Lyrics like “I’m the preacher / a done decision / another creature / whose lost its vision” offer the vulnerability DeMarco is known for, allowing his listeners to feel like they’re reading his diary on a particularly off day.
He continues this vulnerability on “Finally Alone,” “Little Dogs March” and “Preoccupied,” the next three songs on the record.
In “Finally Alone,” DeMarco truly narrates a story— a kind of songwriting I’m particularly fond of— so I might be a bit biased when I say this is one of my favorite songs on the album. Still, I think any listener would agree that DeMarco’s vocals shine on this track, his voice reaching new heights not yet heard this far into the album.
“Little Dogs March” and “Preoccupied” take a negative turn lyrically, as DeMarco transfers into a much more aggressive tone. This definitely interests me more than the repetition of “Here Comes the Cowboy,” although I still find myself making leaps to connect the words together to form a complete picture.
DeMarco takes a father step backward on “Choo Choo,” my least favorite track on the album and hardly more than the repetition of train sounds and “choo choo / take a ride with me.” This song definitely lowers my high impression of the album as DeMarco’s lyrical talents take a break.
Buried deep into the tracklist, “K” wins the title of another one of my favorite songs on the album, a slow ballad to DeMarco’s girlfriend Kiera McNally. The hopeless romantic in me vicariously swoons to the love song that’s unlike any other track on the album.
The next two songs, “Hey Cowgirl” and “On the Square” hardly seem sensational to me, but they do tie in the title of the album, which I would have otherwise forgotten about.
I step back into DeMarco’s diary on “All of Our Yesterdays” and “Skyless Moon,” which dig deep into his consciousness in an entertaining way that lighter songs in the album were unable to do.
The album closes with “Baby Bye Bye,” a song that lasts a whopping 7.5 minutes. The track repeats those same three words for the first three minutes, a tactic that could bring me to sleep if I were tired enough. But strangely, the song then transfers into what sounds like people at the airport and ends with DeMarco whooping “yeehaw mama,” proving that pieces of the rock-and-roll lifestyle he was once known for have stuck around.
As a whole, “Here Comes the Cowboy” is the perfect album for an afternoon spent doing homework in a coffee shop or a morning laying in bed, although I might have to skip through a few of the repetitive songs (I’m looking at you, “Choo Choo”). To me, DeMarco seems to have found his place in the music world with “Here Comes the Cowboy.” Denying my worries that he would abandon his jazzy sounds, DeMarco fully applied his mastery of chill music in this album. Without the redundancy of few songs, the album is a success to me and definitely something I’ll be adding to my music library.
Rating: 4/5 stars
Story by Maddie Stout