Luna Kafé e-zine  Luna Kafé record review
coverpic flag US - California - Full Moon 230 - 06/02/15

Mikal Cronin
Merge Records

In early May Mikal Cronin launched his third album, MCIII, following his self-titled debut, Mikal Cronin (2011, Trouble in Mind) and his second platter, MCII (2013, Merge Records). The Californian singer-songwriter/multi-instrumentalist is an active artist. Besides working a solid solo career, he has been a member of Ty Segall's backing band, plus a player with other bands such as Epsilons, Okie Dokie, Party Fowl, and Charlie and the Moonhearts. For now, he is a solid solo artist.

Cronin roams the poppier side of rock. Sort of around the same alleys as, say, Matthew Sweet did. Maybe also with hints of/nods to Richard Davies and Eric Matthews, plus Liam Finn, but with a little less melancholia and discreet pathos. Or maybe not. Cronin's songs are flowery, juicy and fruitful. The multi-instrumental, playful Cronin has arranged and played nearly all of the songs on MCIII himself. This including the traditional Greek string instrument Tzouras (which he heard and subsequently bought while on tour in Athens, Greece). According to Merge, ''s French horn, saxophone, and trumpet. There are mood-altering crescendos and heart-breaking turns-of-phrase, guitars both gorgeous and pugnacious. No longer satisfied with the sound of 'just one string player,' Cronin arranged parts for a full string quartet instead.' Less is not more. Everything is.

The latter part of the album (the vinyl, side 2) holds a 6-part cycle of songs, "i)" through "iv)", namely "Alone"; "Gold"; "Control"; "Ready"; "Different"; and "Circle". The songs present both quicker tunes shoulder-to-shoulder with more ballad-like songs. Cronin play the 'old-fashioned' rock formula, but he makes his songs sound fresh and vital with a stunning spirit and vibrant stamina. "Gold" is a snap and catchy power-popper with an Eastern (uh, well Greek Mediterranean) tint and some hints of psych-pop. Excellent. "Ready" is one of his roughest songs, with a powerful drive and with some explosive riffs. The string-drenched "Different" is a sweet breath, while "Circle" is a great end to a marvellous album.

To quote Merge, the first half of MCIII ('side A') 'behold a shimmering tsunami of furious, undeniable pop songs', while the second half ('side B') ...marvel at a beautifully wrought concept record in miniature, built around the radiant retelling of what Cronin calls his "coming-of-age" story'. The opening "Turn Around" is a lively and colourful track, while "Say" is a smashing and catchy tune. Cronin rocks, without revolutionizing rock music. He plays and presents super-catchy songs with an edge, with a feeling. Simple as that. 'I'm finding a more successful way of working those unexpected elements and textures and instruments into a rock record, of exploring that wormhole and mushing everything together harmoniously. I like finding new ways to bring different musical worlds together.' (Mikal Cronin). In (May and) June he visits Europe for a number of dates, while he heads back to the US. Make sure you go see him. I guess he will be throwing some great live shows. His music is just perfect for being performed live, especially during the summertime. Let Cronin perform the garage-pop soundtrack for the summer. Love and loneliness makes good music (just check out "Alone"). This is power-pop-rock par excellence.

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