Mac DeMarco, the “lovable prince of indie rock,” is back and in his rawest form with his fifth studio album Five Easy Hot Dogs. Unlike his earlier works, this album is fully instrumental, relying solely on DeMarco’s ear for composition to shine. With all of the songs being recorded on a road trip from Los Angeles, California to Rockaway Beach in Queens, New York, these are his most intimate tracks yet. The whole trip took four months with his only goal being to record something every day and to honor his dad, who recently passed. During the ride, DeMarco quit nicotine and found a way to express his voice without ever singing.

If there is anyone that can accomplish an entirely instrumental road trip album it is DeMarco. This is an album for fans of his slow Here Comes the Cowboy tunes. None of his usual sounds or feelings are lost with this raw format. Even without his voice, fans of DeMarco will instantly recognize him with just the opening chords of the first song, “Gualala.”

With DeMarco quitting nicotine, and having quit alcohol and caffeine years ago, his goal is to see how free he can get, hence why he decided to drop everything for months on the road. The raw form expresses DeMarco’s pure passion for music as he says in a Variety interview, “…it doesn’t “slap,” it doesn’t have “bangers.” It just is what it is. I love music. I love recording music. I love listening to music. And I don’t need extra baggage to come with it.”

The album takes the listener on a journey with DeMarco as he travels, each song being named after the cities he visited. With the strumming of his guitar, listeners are transported via fourteen different songs to Gualala, Crescent City, Portland, Victoria, Vancouver, Edmonton, Chicago, and then all the way to Rockaway.

The real fun comes from listening deeper into what DeMarco is creating the sounds with. Because of this album being worked on in hotel rooms and friends’ houses, he had to get creative with the way he recorded. Many times, when a drumbeat is heard, it is the result of DeMarco knocking on the back of his guitar or playing with a pill bottle.

Each track is so close to home and yet so far away as well, with DeMarco pulling feelings from his hometown Edmonton, Canada all the while saying, “I kind of feel like this record sounds like it was made in an Ewok village in Star Wars.” The playlist for his own road trip was the Final Fantasy X album, intermingled with 600 listens of “Had to Fall in Love” by the Moody Blues, possibly inspiring his mood to take a space trip into 1978.

This is the soundtrack to an indie movie that has yet to be written. Each chord sets a scene full of a unique cast of characters. It is worth listening to even if instrumental songs are not what DeMarco’s fans expect from him. Everyone needs to get in their car and take a trip with Five Easy Hot Dogs.

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