[sic] Magazine

Mikal Cronin – MCII

After 2011’s solid self-titled debut and extensive touring in 2012 as part of the Ty Segall Band , pan-Californian and current Bay Area resident Mikal Cronin is now back with MCII , a powerful album that ought to obliterate any notion of him being some sort of garage also-ran. In either case, Cronin has never been as punishing a solo artist as Slaughterhouse may have suggested and MCII is no different in this regard, stepping – not stomping – on the fuzz pedal when required.

Anyone expecting a collection of frayed sonics will be disappointed then, for MCII is a largely optimistic collection of 10 punchy garage-pop tracks on the theme of new beginnings. “Shout It Out” and “Am I Wrong”, for example, tackle the joys and anxiety associated with a new relationship, the sunny surf in the former ringing out between charming power-pop choruses just dandy for the upcoming summer and the fuzzy piano-pop of the latter trying and failing to conceal a sting in the tail courtesy of a shredding Segall cameo.

Speaking of guest appearances, fellow Ty Segall Band alumnus Charlie Moothart (equally of The Moonhearts ) dials in the drums for a couple of tracks including the wonderfully racing “Turn Away”. And so too does recent Thee Oh Sees collaborator K Dylan Edrich contribute strings on MCII , her country violin a striking counterpoint to Cronin’s strumming on the unassuming “Peace Of Mind” – a timely reminder of Cronin’s capacity to be more than adept when understated. Even still, he’s in pretty uncharted waters come the purely acoustic lament “Don’t Let Me Go”, a statement made all the more vulnerable when surrounded by the likes of fun-time piano-popper “Weight”.

If “Don’t Let Me Go” is unexpected, then the closer “Piano Mantra” sounds like the work of a different artist entirely. Opening with just downbeat piano, emotive strings and a fragile vocal, the far-reaching direction of the track’s later Americana-esque arrangement suggest at a new-found confidence thanks to Cronin’s recent Bachelor’s qualification in Music, the inventive use of roaring distortion in the final parts of the mix concrete proof of his scholarly talents. Should this late shift be indicative of future developments in the Mikal Cronin sound then it should be fascinating to see what he does next.

Advised downloads: “Piano Mantra” and “Shout It Out”

~MCII is released the 6th May 2013 on Merge .~