Vancouver songwriter Mac Demarco has always displayed a niche for modernizing AM-radio rock and pop. With Makeout Videotape, he fed the lackadaisical melodies and splashy reverb through a tinge characteristic of today's generation of noise-pop a la No Age and Japandroids. CD proprietors of his solo debut, Rock and Roll Night Club, will be provided a glimpse of Demarco's past with "Only You" from Makeout Videotape's swansong Ying Yang and "Me & Mine", two tracks identifying with his frail timbre echoing over spry guitar hooks.
Under this solo venture Demarco reasonably carries an outsider persona, comparable to Christian Slater's 'Hard Harry' alter-ego in Pump Up the Volume. He even takes shape of a host, introducing the station with a guttural pitch-shift, "Welcome back, you're rockin' straight through the night with me, Dojo Daniel, on 96.7 The Pipe". A disembodied ostinato sways along the brittle chorus guitar jangle of the opener, Demarco's quivering baritone hearkening back to the King of rock and roll himself, however this inflection stems from more squalid origins not too far from the image his self-coined and -applied term "jizz jazz" illustrates.
The discomfort is conjured by Demarco's voice rather than the subject matter. "Baby's Wearin' Blue Jeans" uses tried-and-true phrases ("heading downtown," "hold me closer," "lonely nights," and others are dispersed throughout the album) during a tale of a jean fetish that seems to interfere with sex. Aside from that plot quirk, the titles should be enough to detail the subject matter within each number: "One More Tear To Cry" fixates on a breakup, "Moving Like Mike" inspires a particular dance in its chorus, and "I'm a Man" is a motivational strut. Demarco's familiar vocabulary is effective, for it accents the era he limns like ringwear.
Rock and Roll Night Club is a perversion of a fun-loving, untainted past. The singer in Demarco's world isn't wielding a guitar and shaking his hips; he's crouching as he presses the microphone against his lips. The instrumentals dispose of all rock bombast in exchange for consumer-grade warble. The guitars are thin and made flimsy by way of warping, the drums attack with compression, and Demarco's croon is as upfront as a cassette overdub will allow. You may have to toggle through dead air, but the sleaze-stirred rock remnants will soon seep from the hi-fi if you tune in.
[Mac Demarco Bandcamp]
[Buy Rock and Roll Night Club from Captured Tracks]