I don’t know much about Mikal Cronin. He has two albums out under his name, MCII and a self-titled debut that only hinted at the accomplishments found on here. He is obviously an acolyte of the kind of very melodic power pop music that doesn’t get a lot of attention. Does he reveal too much about himself in his music? Is it that he’d rather let his songs speak for themselves than have to provide a press-ready narrative? Who knows? What I know for sure is that MCII is a terrific set of songs that shows Cronin to be the kind of pop craftsman who doesn’t want the craft to get in the way of the pleasure drawn from hearing a great song.
MCII starts out very strong with the double punch of “Weight” and “Shout It Out.” These are exuberant, propulsive and melodic pop-rock songs that reveal upon closer listening a vulnerable lyricist who’s not afraid to say things like “I’ve been starting over for a long time/ I’m not ready for another day, I fail at feeling new/ The time is right, I’m only getting older/ I’m not ready for the second wave, the weight of seeing through” (“Weight”) or “Say you want me, say it’s fine / Take the light in, make it shine/ I don’t know me well enough/ To cure you. Is this love?” (“Peace of Mind”). While this is typically the realm of the Sensitive Sing-Songwriter, Cronin’s music is never complacent. “I’m Done Running from You” and, especially, “Turn Away”, with it’s beautifully extended Beach Boy’s-worthy coda, are just brilliant tunes executed with a lot of positive energy. Needless to say, MCII has been a constant presence in my speakers for the better part of a year now since its 2013 release and will continue to be for years to come.
For fans of R.E.M., Beach Boys, Big Star and Jason Falkner.