Captured Tracks has done well for itself as a young label. Just four years into its existence, it has established a firm aesthetic, and not to mention founder Mike Sniper’s interesting business model. The label’s jangly, reverby, clean guitars are found across most every release, almost to the point that you can predict what a Captured Tracks band will sound like before you even hit play. Where the label does well, however, is in attaching itself to acts who have this unifying characteristic, but apply it in incredibly distinct ways. Whether through the Factory Records fetishism of Hoop Dreams or Craft Spells, the dream pop of Wild Nothing, the c86-isms of Beach Fossils, or the near krautrock of up-and-comers Dive, the Captured Tracks sound is apparent. This debut release from Mac DeMarco, one of the newest signees to the label, features a bit of that clean guitar rock that’s made Captured Tracks notable, but for the most part represents something new and different for the label, a fact that will certainly benefit DeMarco.

Most of the Captured Tracks stable hearkens back to music of past eras, and DeMarco certainly fits that mold. Though where a Craft Spells-type has their gaze firmly set upon the early 80s, DeMarco mines the tones of the mid 50s. Pretty much throughout, and certainly beginning with the title track, he adopts a deep crooner’s voice not too dissimilar to one Elvis Presley. While comparisons to The King are probably simultaneously a turn off and a bit of hyperbole, any similarity is in some dilapidated sense. It’s Jim Jarmusch’s Mystery Train in aural form. Jarmusch’s portrait of Memphis was one of misplaced falling apart nostalgia, centered around music memories of time long gone. Though the inclusion of the two radio show interludes ‘96.7 The Pipe’ and ‘106.2 Breeze FM’ may just be DeMarco ensuring that he doesn’t get too serious on an album that certainly skews that direction, it certainly seems to contribute to that nostalgic feel. It’s been nearly sixties years since music like this, downtrodden pop-rock with rockabilly guitar solos, would have been played on the radio and these interludes highlight that.

That’s not to say this music doesn’t deserve it, advance single ‘Baby’s Wearing Blue Jeans’ and ‘European Vegas’ are built around the typical Captured Tracks guitar hooks, though anchored by DeMarco’s deep croon instead of the wispy vocals generally attached to reverb laden guitar rock. And it’s all coupled together by a “don’t give a shit” kind of attitude atypical of the fey indie pop which he’ll certainly be grouped. Rock And Roll Night Club is all lazy strums and dizzily plucked leads, instead of the self-serious drive of some of his labelmates, all while tackling subjects no less important and valid than those other artists.

Whether lamenting the loneliness, as he put it, “the kids in Montreal who all like to dress up like Morrissey” on ‘European Vegas’ or through the sincerity of the Pavement-esque ramble of ‘She’s Really All I Need’, DeMarco always comes across as charming and confident. It’s as if there’s a smile plastered on his face throughout this whole album. He’s cheesing because he’s having fun, he’s cheesing because he’s not really trying, and such a release becomes an incredible pleasure to listen to. All grandiose interpretations aside, this is an album of solid, endearing catchy songs, and as a result it becomes one of the most pleasant listens that this year has yet to offer.