Tuesday, May 7, 2013
REVIEW: Mikal Cronin - MCII
Few artists fuse the power and exuberance of garage with the hooks and melody of guitar pop with the assurance and originality of Mikal Cronin. But, then, in my view, Cronin is an emerging pop star, and I'm betting that MCII, out today on Merge Records, convinces a large number of pop music fans that I'm right.
What Cronin does well is, well, everything that is important. He writes quality songs with hooks that stay with you, but with the restraint to never overdecorate the sound. He varies and stretches his garage palate to provide sunny '60s-style pop (e.g. "Weight", "Shout It Out"), crunchy power pop (e.g. "Change", "I'm Done Running From You"), psychedelic ("See It My Way"), even a dash of country ("Peace of Mind"). And his wide angle lens take on garage leaves room for strings, acoustic guitar and piano. He plays multiple instruments well, and performs with conviction. And through it all there is a palpable sense of fun, of joy in making the music. It isn't surprising that Cronin is most known for the harder edged garage rock from his work with his high school friend and long-time collaborator Ty Segall, but to my ears MCII has more in common with Teenage Fanclub (and Norman Blake's Johnny project) than the San Francisco garage scene.
Cronin's talent isn't being revealed for the first time on MCII. But this album serves as a coming out party, a well planned and adroitly executed statement that he belongs on the pop scene. Don't be a wallflower - dive in.
Cronin plays most of the instruments for the album, but gets some guitar help from buddy Segall and Petey Dammit on a couple of tracks, drums on a couple of tracks from Charles Moothart and strings on two tracks from K. Dylan Edrich, late of the Mallard.