Just as 2 was hands down my favourite record of the year, it's only April and already I find it hard to imagine that any major label release in the next eight months will give me as much joy as Mac Demarco's Salad Days. It's a near perfect album - lyrically complex without ever being pretentious; consistently warm without ever being repetitive; and generous without ever being whorish. Every music critic from here to Boston might feel like calling DeMarco a 'slacker', but the truth is the total opposite: he is one of the hardest working musicians in recent memory, labouring over tracks that come pre-polished with the 23 year old's blood, sweat and tears.
How to Eat this Album.
Nothing green and leafy, as should be evident from DeMarco's croon on the title track: "Missing hippy Jon/Salad days are gone." Ultimately, this is an album of comfort; the kind that never tries to be your best friend, but somehow ends up in your innermost circle before you know it. As a result, you need a recipe that'll keep you cosy on a rainy day - the kind of meal you might eat while recovering from a stomach bug, or the devastating end of a relationship . You need cheer up food, essentially, and in that category there is nothing better than a good ole Croque-Monsieur.
There are those who might call the Croque-Monsieur nothing but a glorified toasted sandwich, but this is the nectar of the Suburban Gods: easy to make, filling, and exactly what you need at least 90% of the time.
There's a deliriously detailed recipe here:
But don't be intimidated: a Croque-Monsieur is just as wonderful when it's cooked as quickly, cheaply and effectively as possible. Good old taste.com has a bare bones recipe that will fix what ails ya, guaranteed:
How to Drink This Album.
For Salad Days, you need something that you can drink quite a lot of before you start feeling the effects of the booze - although this album is a lean 34 minutes, it's the kind of record you'll want to start from the beginning as soon as its over. Also, this isn't the kind of music that benefits from drunken ears. Don't do the music the disservice of shaking to it with a bellyful of liquor - just get yourself a nice, quiet buzz on and enjoy.
Crabbie's Alcoholic Ginger Beer isn't boozy enough to get you even closed to pissed on anything less than four bottles, but as soon as you finish a single glass, you'll get that ever-sought after liquid relaxation you've been waiting for your whole day at work.
How to Watch this Album.
Mac DeMarco isn't as obsessed with the 90's as some of his contemporaries: unlike Beach House or Best Coast, for example, he has a complexity that rises above nostalgia. But, fact of the matter is, you can't go past the balls-to-the walls awesomeness that American animated television had to offer in that decade, and there are a whole range of 90's TV shows that go beautifully with Salad Days.
Let's be honest: when all the Adventure Time hype dies down, Ren and Stimpy will be left standing as the king of animated television madness. It also happens to be Salad Days' perfect visual partner in crime: a little mad; a little bizarre; but totally down to Earth, and totally inviting.
Okay, so maybe Ren and Stimpy isn't always totally inviting, as the clip above can probably attest, but once again, all you have to do is mute Ren and Stimpy's sound, put on Salad Days, kick back, and enjoy all that mischievous perfection.
How To Read this Album.
The work of Daniel Clowes fits perfectly with DeMarco's oeuvre - after all, both share an interest in the outsider, and both manage to be cutting without ever being cruel. Ghost World may be Clowes' best known work, and its tragi-comic tone suits Salad Days's joyful introspection perfectly. But, Pussey, Clowes' heartfelt damnation of the comic books industry itself, is also definitely worth a look.