Having endured his surprisingly quick ascendance to indie stardom, Mac DeMarco took the breakout success of 2014's Salad Days in stride and merely carried on with business, refining his trademark blend of wobbly, chilled-out soft rock with increasing quality on outings like 2015's lovelorn Another One and 2017's more introspective This Old Dog. The pranky slacker image that translated as DeMarco's public persona was certainly earned, but also served as a lazy subterfuge for a rather hardworking artist who records, produces, and plays all the instruments on what has turned out to be quite a lot of material. Padding his three proper albums are various demo collections, mini-albums, instrumental sets, and EPs documenting his process and progress. Now ensconced in Los Angeles, a more tonally suitable geography than any of his previous Canadian or East Coast homes, DeMarco is seven years into his solo career, making him an established commodity in the indie world. His fourth official album and inaugural release on Mac's Record Label (what else would he call it?) arrives as somewhat of a conundrum. Here Comes the Cowboy isn't really about cowboys, nor does it have a particularly country-inspired feel. Growing up in prairie-bound Edmonton, he chafed against the cowboy image adopted by the jocks and bullies of his youth and only later adopted the term "cowboy" as a semi-affectionate slang term among his friends. With its camera phone happy-face button cover and minimalist production, Here Comes the Cowboy is a mixed bag of a record beset by an overall aimlessness where some crafty low-key gems have to share the bus with a few inane clunkers that probably should have stayed in the vault. Lead singles "Nobody" and "All of Our Yesterdays" are grade-A DeMarco tracks that feel like a nice continuation of This Old Dog's more personal style. Likewise, "On the Square" channels the best parts of his '70s studio pop obsession while the gentle, all-acoustic "K" serves as a winsome and heartfelt love song. When goofball Mac takes over on the sleazy "Choo Choo" and tail-dragging closer, "Baby Bye Bye," it just feels a bit tedious and unnecessary. The same goes for the title cut, a repetitive experiment that hangs on way too long, making for a confounding opener. Offenders and highlights aside, Here Comes the Cowboy might have been trimmed down to a solid EP or mini-album, but as a whole it just doesn't live up to the standards DeMarco set on his first three albums.
AllMusic Review by Timothy Monger