Someone can do a lot in eight hours and 43 minutes. Options include, but aren’t limited to, running two marathons, watching the entire Kung Fu Panda movie franchise, or if you really play your cards right, flying to a whole different continent. It also gives one just enough time to listen to Mac DeMarco’s latest album, One Wayne G.
Boasting a 199-song tracklist, DeMarco’s latest creative endeavor has a run time longer than many artists' entire discographies. But this project isn’t intended to be enjoyed in one sitting — not many rational people would consider listening to it in less than three. Without a cohesive sound or identity, it’s less of an album as much as it is a presentation of music DeMarco has recorded over the past five years.
Anyone who chooses to listen to the entire project can expect an eclectic mix of instrumentation, song structure and degree of completion. Certain songs such as “20220128” or “20200812” showcase neatly layered guitar, drum and bass lines that seem ready for DeMarco’s vocals. Others, such as “20180927” and “20211129 2” have much simpler arrangements. “20190826” is a 22-minute loop of synth crescendos and decrescendos akin to the music you might hear on the phone after being placed on hold.
There’s no shortage of unique instrumentation either. The majority of songs feature either guitar or synths accompanied by drums and a bass line, however, there are also flutes, the clanging of tools and water droplet sound effects, with or without reason.
Each song title is the date it was recorded, which allows the listener to track DeMarco’s creative process, as songs progress from being near-finished, to formless experiments, and back. A prominent example is near the end of the project, when a three-track run from spring 2022 features an abstract drum solo, structureless guitar-wailing and a collection of video game-esque sounds, respectively. After a four month gap, the next song has full instrumentation and vocals.
Other songs have DeMarco’s voice, but it’s mostly him humming or singing gibberish as he searches for a melody.
Ultimately, One Wayne G allows listeners to choose how they’d like to experience it, that is, if they even want to. In a music landscape seemingly defined by a quest for the next TikTok hit, this move may seem highly unorthodox. Some artists would do it just to say it was a counter-cultural statement. But for Mac DeMarco, he’s simply being himself.
Despite the unconventionality of this album, there are songs that are worth listening to. Ranging from ballads centered upon his lover’s desire for a sandwich, to intricately-plucked guitar melodies, here are the highlights of Mac Demarco’s One Wayne G that you don’t want to miss.
A pair of electric guitars, electric bass and drums come together to make a song that feels as if it was recorded straight out of a jam-session. A pizzicato-style guitar line is the feature of this composition as the other instruments each play their own ascending and descending line on repeat. They all blend together seamlessly and completely without any need for vocals, which would just get in the way of the chemistry occurring between each instrument. It’s easy to imagine DeMarco’s grin while recording this up-tempo, feel-good track.
An electric and acoustic guitar duet in this song, the piece shining as each take turns playing their own melody. Elevated by a rhythmic bass line and drums playing a leisurely tempo, each guitar has ample time to speak its truth. Primarily consisting of major chords, this song would feel right at home in any movie featuring characters taking a road trip along the west coast in a convertible. Vocals aren't needed; the guitar lines captivate the listener.
“20200816 She Want the Sandwich”
This track is simple. A drum set, electric guitar and Mac DeMarco singing about his girl’s desire for a sandwich. Lyrical content includes:
“Lettuce and tomato, baby.
With mayo on a roll, I’ll go anywhere she goes”
The creative, goofy nature of this song characterizes much of this album’s content, not to mention the very circumstances of its release. A 45-second whistle solo acts as the closer, recounting the same melody as DeMarco’s vocals.
“20200819 She Get the Gold Star”
Mac sings about the anticipation of a partner’s return while simultaneously reflecting on what their relationship means to him. A snare-heavy drum line and warm guitar chords support his laid-back delivery which shines on the twice-repeating chorus. It’s endearing to hear about Mac’s love for his partner and the happiness he feels in his relationship.
This song also features DeMarco’s vocals, however, he’s accompanied by a chorus of background singers as they harmonize on an “oh” syllable and make a series of chord progressions. An active baseline, woodblock percussionist and acoustic guitar play in the background, creating a feeling that’s both folksy and ethereal. This 63-second long track provides listeners with a sound rarely heard from DeMarco which would be intriguing to see developed even further.
Arguably the most minimalistic song on the album, and as a result, one of the most intriguing. DeMarco repeatedly strums a descending guitar line as raindrops sound in the background. The combination creates a welcoming aura and feels as if it could belong in a Legend of Zelda soundtrack. DeMarco seemingly wrote this song when he was bored, maybe on a rainy day as the background suggests. It beckons the listener to let their mind wander for its three minute duration just as DeMarco’s likely did when recording.
“20221102 The Truth”
A simplistic guitar melody sets the tone for a reflective DeMarco recounting past relationship experiences. Light drums and a maraca set a slow but deliberate pace. As DeMarco enters a higher range for a chorus, he makes the song’s grand reveal.
“Won't go away so soon
"So I'd better go reap what I've sewn
"And keep my heart from the truth”
A pizzicato guitar line then takes his place, amplifying his realization about how he protects his heart. This process repeats, then slowly fades.
Thumbnail photo courtesy of Raph_PH is licensed under CC BY 2.0