Mac DeMarco and the artistic slouch: has slack rock come to an end?

When women have to put in twice the work to get half the recognition, the alt-rock archetype loses its appeal

  • Modern Toss on slacker rock

The stereotype of the slacker dood has been a staple of US alt-rock since the early 90s: a movement epitomised by Douglas Coupland’s Generation X, Pavement, Richard Linklater’s Slacker and apathy’s anthem, Loser by Beck. Back then, it was endearing: a lazy “fuck you” to the overblown Guns N’ Roses and the earnest Pearl Jam. Yet a quarter of a century later, it’s an ironic approach that no longer sits entirely right.

Music is an industry where women constantly have to put in twice the work in order to get half the recognition (See Beck winning best album at the 2015 Grammys over Beyoncé’s self-titled multimedia odyssey). A genre that relies on men shrugging their shoulders and doing the bare minimum doesn’t quite have the same appeal.

Slackers’ slouchy attitude also seems at odds with that of the hyper-productive, hyper-politicised younger generations consuming it for the first time. So much so that even its godfathers are drifting from their origins. Pavement singer Stephen Malkmus’s new record Groove Denied is an electronic album that sounds like Soft Cell gently frotting Kraftwerk. In a recent interview in Q, the Lemonheads’ Evan Dando was more interested in promoting his paintings than his new covers album. Then there is the curious backlash against Mac DeMarco. Who could hate on the professionally adorable DeMarco, with his gap-toothed smile, sassy way with dungarees and fondness for shoving drumsticks up his anus like GG Allin guest-starring in The Simpsons?

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