You want “Here Comes the Cowboy,” the sparse, lackadaisical opener to Mac DeMarco’s latest album of the same name, to be a joke. Mostly because, taken at face value, the monotonous, lazy refrain—which sounds like it’s being sung by an old-timey bum on slow-moving a train—is a disheartening indication of what’s to come.
But, we’re talking about the same Canadian singer-songwriter who gave us naval-gazing mediations like Salad Days and This Old Dog. And sure enough, Cowboy features some of the most minimal arrangements Mac Demarco has ever laid down.
Songs like “Finally Alone” express the desire to escape our overwhelming society. “Skyless Moon” and “Heart to Heart” are tributes to the late Mac Miller. Even the infantile “Choo Choo” takes a dark turn when DeMarco invites us to die with him.
These are all worthy ideas and events to explore. Yet they’re sung across music that, many times, is so sedate that Mac risks boring his listeners to sleep. Back-to-back tracks “Little Dogs March” and “Preoccupied” illustrate this the most, and they’re on the front half of the album! That “All Of Our Yesterdays,” “Nobody,” and “On The Square” are the album’s singles now seem like no-brainers.
Here Comes the Cowboy has several solid moments, and fans of Mac’s trademark sound will find something to love. But without a cup of coffee to keep you awake, you may not even make it to closer and highlight “Baby Bye Bye.” Taken at face value, this album is a sleeper.