Mac DeMarco comes by his reputation as a laissez-faire singer-songwriter honestly, what with his laconic voice and lazy-Sunday acoustic guitar strumming. His work ethic is anything but slackeriffic, however: This Old Dog comes on the heels of a steady stream of EPs, mini-albums and demo releases, and upholds DeMarco’s commitment to meticulous songcraft.
Piano, keyboards and occasional noise outbursts—as heard on the seven-minute “Moonlight on the River”—augment the LP’s chill tempos and familiar influences. The title track and “Still Beating” recall the sleepy-stoned indie-folk Blur favored in the late ’90s; a percolating drum machine and nostalgic riffs give the bittersweet “My Old Man” a Robyn Hitchcock vibe; and “On the Level” is a vaporwave chimera with otherworldly synth work. The latter two songs also double as the catchiest moments on This Old Dog, which is brought down some by its lack of memorable moments. Breezy bossa nova number “Dreams From Yesterday” and the dream-poppy “One Another,” for example, are pleasant enough, but don’t make much of a lingering impression. This Old Dog isn’t comprised of new tricks as much as it illustrates DeMarco’s steady, solid musical competence.