Mac’s salad days are officially gone, no pun intended. This Old Dog marks the turning point for Mac daddy, signaling a shift in songwriting going beyond cute, surface-level love songs like tracks from Another One and casual everyday shenanigans in 2. Long gone are the days where you could see Mac perform at hole-in-the-wall venues and hear him cough up a cig on a demo; as he has increasingly become mainstream muse for his shameless goofiness and nonchalant lifestyle. You’ve now got music news outlets interviewing him and his mom and writing about his little perks and quirks. On his newest album, Mac cleans up sonically and lyrically, getting more personal and real as he hits on things we forget that famous people too, struggle with. This Old Dog let’s us in to see a little more of Mac’s world as he opens up and brushes up on sound.
The first track introduces us to this shift in style, starting folk, clean and upbeat and for the first time in a long time, synth-less. “My Old Man” reveals some family business between Mac and his dad; a standoffish relationship due to his issues and absence, having Mac analyze his reflection by saying, “Uh oh, looks like I’m seeing more of my old man in me”, expressing the worry of aging or maybe even his habits. It then soon switched to give us a little flashback to 2 Mac with “This Old Dog”, the first track released as the teaser to the album; hazy and perfect for a boat ride down the river as he knows to do so well. Of course, it’s a love song composed just as he intends; soft and honest, we are rest assured that Mac won’t forget about his sweet love, Kiera.
It isn’t until the fourth track, “For The First Time” that we finally get a high off synths with some sadness over his lover leaving him and patiently awaiting the next time he’ll see her. Mac then get’s all uncle-at-a-barbeque on us when he offers advice on “One Another” about mending a broken heart and realizing it’s not as bad as you think it is. We can even go as far to say that there is a parallel between his previous track “Another One” on the last album; where he talks about his girl loving someone else and “One Another” where he ultimately realizes that it might be a good thing to let go. There is a mix of acoustics and electrics throughout the course of the album, all glossed over Mac sitting on his own thoughts and just making music from them. You can hear Mac facing adulthood through the progression of the tracks; and the way that he becomes more open to expressing his emotions on tracks like “Still Beating” and ultimately the ending track, “Watching Him Fade Away”. He ends this album reflecting on his feelings toward his father being diagnosed with cancer, and struggling with feeling bad or feeling justified. It’s a Mac we haven’t heard, a Mac you definitely don’t imagine when watching Instagram videos of him farting into a lighter and creating a bigger flame (it’s real, check it out). Regardless, he is still his same old self, and This Old Dog just shows another side of the Mac spectrum. From here on out, we can expect to see this sweetness headlining festivals and on our Facebook feed more often.
RIYL: Alex Calder, The Courtneys
Key Tracks: For The First Time, Still Beating, On the Level, Dreams From Yesterday