Mac DeMarco: Alluringly Sleazy

May 7, 2012
Originally published on May 9, 2012 8:46 pm

What's not immediately obvious about "Baby's Wearing Blue Jeans," a standout track from Mac DeMarco's Rock and Roll Night Club, is just how firmly DeMarco has his tongue planted in his cheek. It's not that the 22-year-old's previous work as Makeout Videotape is lacking in goofiness (Exhibit A), so much as that Rock and Roll Night Club has such a strongly realized aesthetic — from the unsettling deadpan gaze on the cover to DeMarco's newfound creepy-baritone delivery — to the point where it's hard to hear the Canadian's smirk underneath all the "implications." Take away the absurd radio skits sprinkled throughout the album, and suddenly a line like "Straight-leg or a bootcut?" feels like it's enhancing the portrait of a fetishist rather than fishing for chuckles.

Still, the tune itself is irresistible. DeMarco already has a knack for crafting warm, infectious guitar hooks, and "Baby's Wearin' Blue Jeans" filters that lo-fi pop aesthetic through an eerie wash of glam. The backing track has all the carefree breeziness of a Puro Instinct or Real Estate tune, but DeMarco's cruise-control vocals channel Marc Bolan "Jeepster" vibes. It's those slowed-down vocal manipulations that beget all the ambiguity of intention; they lend a sense of "story" to a song that would have been lost had DeMarco stuck to a higher register. Suddenly, its otherwise innocent groove becomes alluringly sleazy. That is to say, by the time DeMarco sings, "Stick with me forever / Don't take off those jeans," it's hard not to humor him.

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