The most striking element of this record is how universal Cronin’s lyrical themes are, despite their highly personal nature. He gives the listener a full scope into his troubles and desires, but at no point does it feel alienating or difficult. His life may be on display with this record, but his problems are easily relatable. His music provides the perfect backdrop for his confessional lyricism, blending elements of 1970s power pop, ‘90s grunge, and West Coast garage rock, but with a keen understanding of arranging and layering. Cronin shows distinct confidence and mastery with instrumentation, giving each track the perfect amount of tension and release.
Recently, Adult Swim included one of Cronin’s tracks, “Better Man”, on their newest garage rock compilation, Garage Swim, a collection of unreleased garage rock tracks from bands like Bass Drum of Death, Thee Oh Sees, and King Tuff. Cronin’s inclusion is intriguing. Although the garage scene he’s affiliated with heavily influences his music, his songs have more in common with Blue Album-era Weezer than they do Black Lips or Ty Segall. Those who are expecting another entry into the West Coast garage rock canon with Mikal Cronin’s new album may want to look elsewhere. Sure, this album can get heavy, but that’s not the point. MCII relies more on the power of Cronin’s arranging than it does his fuzz pedal, and listeners will be more inclined to sing their hearts out than bang their head to this record. With MCII, Cronin turns his contradictions into choruses and has made one of the standout records of 2013.
Written by Andy Engstrom, Radio K volunteer