Following the dissolution of genre-defying Vancouver outfit Makeout Videotape in 2011, founding members Mac DeMarco and Alex Calder put about 2,250 miles (that’s 3,600 kilometers for our neighbors to the north) between them. DeMarco, after knocking around Montreal for a few tough months renting out his body to medical science, landed on label Captured Tracks and within months miraculously got his schizophrenic track “Moving Like Mike” on a Target commercial. Instead of rolling the dice in a new metropolis, Calder laid low at his mom’s pad in Edmonton, plotting his next move amidst the shadows of mega malls and oil rigs.
Now it’s Calder’s turn. His Captured Tracks debut, Time, is a drowsy, listless LP accented by bleary vocals, which reveal how lethal social stagnation can be to a young whippersnapper’s spirit.
Leading with a sparse, lo-fi guitar on “Suki and Me”, Calder reaches out in desperation for his mate to lend meaning to an otherwise wobbly and shapeless existence (“But I fall down, without you”). Languid cut “Location”, steeped in nonchalant self-depreciation, leaks menacing feedback out from behind monotonous whispers. A jarring chorus matter-of-factly frames depression as an unavoidable aspect of everyday life, as Calder moans: “Stay in my room / drinking again / without my friends.”
But offering up a glimmer of hope that feels like a desperate gasp of oxygen on up-tempo “Light Leaves Your Eyes”, serene backup harmonies tussle and play with chirpy guitar lines that promise brighter days ahead. Though back-end cuts “Captivate” and the appropriately-titled “Lethargic” spin as an enervating schlep into a stale, moldy purgatory. At his best, Calder channels a disaffected claustrophobia, bearing down on twentysomethings lost and disaffected in their parents’ basements. It’s a bummer listen, but sometimes that’s warranted.
Essential Tracks: “Suki and Me,” “Light Leaves Your Eyes”