From Background to Foreground, Mikal Cronin II


Mikal Cronin’s MCII

How is it that so many people still don’t know who Mikal Cronin is? He’s only been making great music since 2005 (starting as a founding member of Epsilons with Ty Segall, followed by playing in Moonhearts, Party Fowl and Okie Dokie, as well as Ty Segall Band). Over half the bands Mikal Cronin’s been a part of also involved Ty Segall, as well as projects like Reverse Shark Attack. With the success Ty Segall has found, it’s been easy to overlook his equally talented musical partner Cronin, who now has a B.F.A. in Music. Perhaps with this month’s release of MCII, Mikal Cronin will start to garner the respect he deserves.

Sure, Ty Segall is on this album as well (how could he not be?) contributing some classic Segall guitar solos. But make no mistake, this album is purely Cronin’s. It’s his second solo album–a poppier, more personal record then one would expect. MCII still has some distortion and garage power, but it’s more Meat Puppets then Meatmen. The influence of artists such as the Meat Puppets, Elliott Smith and the Vaselines can be heard, along with the further development of the sound he’s been working on with Ty Segall the last few years.

Even with all the different elements Cronin combines on MCII, the final product feels unique and fresh. Mikal Cronin carves out his own sound in these ten tracks, effortlessly transitioning from fuzzed-out galloping grinds like “I’m Done Running From You,” right into beautiful acoustic heartpunches like “Don’t Let Me Go.”

This track is the dark heart of the album. “Can’t take this feeling from me,” he sings, and you can feel the pain mixed with memories of happier times. This song punches the listener directly in the feels. The sparse composition works to magnify the emotion of the song, which was done entirely by Cronin at home. It’s the most personal-feeling song on an album full of loss and yearning, change and growth.

For fans of Cronin’s work with Segall on Slaughterhouse (one of my favorite albums of 2012), there are some wilder tracks, like “Shout It Out” and “Change.” “Shout It Out” is catchy, starting gently, then building into a rocker. “Change” is the early favorite off the album, full of great energy and some of the best singing on the album. The way Cronin uses his voice as an instrument to shape his lyrics is perfect here, twisting the mood of the song in different directions throughout before some beautiful string work stretches things out, only to bring it to a crashing then dwindling finish. Just thinking about it makes me want to hear it again.

My third favorite track? Well that would have to be “I’m Done Running From You.” Something about this track made me fall for it immediately. Great chorus, great guitar and lyrics. I even got the tiniest Beach Boys feel off this for some reason, along with a twist of Kinks. The Ty Segall guitar blast on this track certainly doesn’t hurt, either.

It is hard to find a bad track on this album. Every track is beautifully crafted and emotionally replete. Every listen to MCII leaves the listener with a warm feeling inside, the feeling one gets after listening to a classic, masterful album. This is an album I expect to listen to a lot in the next few months, and imagine it will be in my top five of the year, easily. If I have any complaint, it’s that the album is over all too soon. MCII is an album you can listen all the way through in under 40 minutes. But why mess with a great thing? If Mikal Cronin says that’s the album, then that’s that. Asking for more just feels greedy after he’s given us so much goodness.

But of course, if he wants to pull a Ty Segall and drop three albums on the world in a year, I certainly won’t complain.



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