If you’re looking for a comforting, lightweight album to sway to, look no further. Lilting and listless, Five Easy Hot Dogs is a soothing collection of instrumentals that hazily document Mac DeMarco’s time on the road in America. Despite being more abstract than his previous indie-pop releases, DeMarco’s distinctive and personality-ridden approach songwriting shines, and the album creates its own unique feeling of tranquil simplicity.
Since the release of his previous album Here Comes The Cowboy in 2019, the Canadian artist has kept quite a low profile, apart from a few shows here and there. Hopping between cities and staying in motels, hotels, and people’s houses over the course of a few months last year, Five Easy Hot Dogs was recorded and mixed in the corresponding city from each song title, and songs are laid out in chronological order. We are invited to join DeMarco as he goes on his wanderings; and the album’s warm, embracing ambience provides a real sense of comfort as well as encapsulating the artist’s laid back, vibey persona.
The tracks, whilst deliberately not written with intention, blend seamlessly together and work to capture the exhausting and at times monotonous nature of travel. In a sense, this makes the music feel very authentic – as DeMarco explains in the album’s press release, “I was in it while I was in it, and this is what came out of it, just the way it was.” This natural and sporadic approach to the songwriting pays off, creating a record that reflects how aimless exploration might feel, and a sense of serene listlessness is reflected in the songs’ wonky synths, rolling riffs and plodding percussion.
Whilst perhaps not the most groundbreaking of projects, the album is a relaxing listen that’s both serene and reassuring. It can be dipped in and out of and its gentle musicality doesn’t demand full attention, so it’s perfect for listening to after a stressful day, or to wake up to in the morning while drinking a warm cup of coffee. ‘Gualala’, ‘Crescent City’, ‘Chicago 2’ and ‘Edmonton’ are particular stand outs in this respect, with bass-driven, ambient, low-key melodies that are pleasing to the ear. A real mixture of free-spirited optimism and melancholia runs throughout Five Easy Hot Dogs, yet it unmistakably carries DeMarco’s fun and quirky musical signature. The album, despite its brevity, provides a kind of sonic solace, a place to escape from the chaos of life for a little while.
Five Easy Hot Dogs by Mac DeMarco is released on 20th January via Mac’s Record Label