Power Pop Perfection from a Glorious Garage
Mikal Cronin is one of those unabashed music-maker types. He has no problem being in a variety of bands, playing multiple instruments and writing tons of music. The sky’s the limit, really, until he grows tired of it all and chooses another endeavor. Whether this is likely or not would only be speculation. And all this is unimportant when you consider what’s important: The new Mikal Cronin solo endeavor, an album simply titled MCII.
This album is many things: Sonically refreshing, not too long, tastefully worded, a perfect crossroads of lo- and hi-fi, but most of all, MCII is catchy as shit and yet not at all superficial. “I’ve been starting over for a long time” he begins, and you just know this is going to be an album of observation and navigating the trials and trails of existence. Simply spoken, but painting a picture of the existential day-to-day, power prose that anyone should be able to relate to. Candidly self-aware, Cronin tells us, “I’m pretty good at making things harder to see / And turning problems back to me / That’s not the way I want to be.” His delivery is direct and unpretentious—a spirited kid with ideas worth sharing.
In 2011, Cronin’s eponymous debut was a healthy injection of the garage pop he’s about, but the production on MCII takes it all to a new level. His voice is clearer, tones are brighter and yet there is plenty of guitar crunch to make things big, loud and exciting. Nice touches of acoustic guitar, piano and violin are seamlessly orchestrated at just the right moments, taking this beyond just a “solo album” and into “timeless classic” waters. Sometimes punk, sometimes balladeer, he has crafted an album that fits right in with the best of its ilk, bringing to mind familiar sounds of the ’90s, ’80s or even ’60s.
If Mikal Cronin really did nothing ever again, this work would be a fantastic claim to fame, a straightforward take-no-prisoners vessel of life and personality, complete with cranked guitars and gliding melodies—the power and the pop. But with this kind of gem people will be thirsting for an MCIII or equivalent, and he won’t be able to stop even if he wants to.