Tuesday, May 26, 2015

REVIEW: Mikal Cronin - MCIII

Mikal Cronin is a master at crafting powerpop songs, with hooks and melodies that make you feel good.  On his third album, the rather directly titled MCIII, he continues to widen the scope of his offerings.  He provides multiple layers of sounds with keys and strings in the mix, and swells that tickle the rafters.  And the swells sound even bigger when contrasted with the occasional dips in volume.  This is well-conceived and well-executed pop music that is cinematic and energizing from the initial strains of opener "Turn Around".  The following "Made My Mind Up" is top class power pop of The New Pornographers variety.  "Say" and "Feel Like" continue to pump out the big sound.

The pace and tone changes beginning with the fifth track, "Been Loved", a nuanced balled and, for my money, the best quiet moment on the album.  It also provides the transition to the six linked coming of age pieces that comprise the remainder of MCIII.  "(i) Alone" is one half whisper and one half noise pop; at the moment, I prefer the latter.  "(ii) Gold" combines power pop and garage in a fashion similar to Cronin's work with his old partner Ty Segall to highly satisfying effect.  And just as I was putting a "+" in my notes for the preceding track, "(iii) Control" jangles in to steal my heart; that one could be a single as well.  A more garagey version of power pop is on offer with "(iv) Ready", again recalling Cronin's earlier San Franciso days.  "(v) Different" brings back the strings for a languid ballad.  The closing "(vi) Circle" is a fitting closer, combining mid-tempo jangle pop with reflective lyrics and piano.

MCIII is a very satisfying album from a songwriter and musician who is accomplished by still growing.  This is one of the highlights of his journey.

MCIII is out now via Merge Records in digital, CD, cassette and vinyl formats.

Merge Records page for MCIII

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