On the sound of Salad Days, DeMarco said: "I didn't want to freak anybody out with a huge sound change. I wanted to transition without changing the vibe too much. The mood for Salad Days is, 'Fuck man! I was just on tour for a year and a half and I'm tired!'" Regarding the album's lyrical content, DeMarco consciously decided to write a more personal record than its predecessor, 2 (2012), stating there wouldn't be any songs about "absolutely nothing", and that he "need[ed] to get this shit out"] Three of the album's tracks focus upon his long-term girlfriend Kiera McNally, with "Let My Baby Stay" referencing the couple's decision to move from Montreal, Quebec, Canada to Brooklyn. The track "Chamber of Reflection" references a freemasonry concept, which DeMarco subsequently likened to his home studio: "It's a room people go into before you're initiated into freemasonry. It's like a meditation room, and they lock you in there for a period of time. The purpose is to reflect on what you've done in your life already and move on from it. I think that's what I did in [my home studio] right here. It was actually therapeutic. I feel a little enlightened, a little less heavy. It's tight".