Despite putting out a pretty stellar debut album a couple of years back Mikal Cronin has lived in the outstretched shadow of frequent collaborator Ty Segal for some time now. But with this his second solo effort, Cronin steps firmly out of the comparisons and stands out on his own for the world to see just how talented an individual he has become.
As a male in his mid to late twenties who has been through a number of ups and downs, the quarter life crisis which appears to be fuelling the lyrical content of MCII is something that resonates pretty deeply with me. There is a rawness and a simple but earnest quality to Cronin’s songwriting that digs beneath the surface and gives his work more weight. Here’s clearly been in a more contemplative and introspective state since we last heard from him and this has seeped through into his creative output. Theres nothing linguistically fancy about the albums opening line “I’ve been starting over for a long time” but its grounded, its personal and its real. This approach and delivery continues through the album and in doing so he not only gives more depth to the record but shows how a little insight can go a long way.
These qualities are magnified significantly during the albums slower moments. Tracks like “Dont Let Me Go” and “Piano Mantra” draw out more emotion and empathy when coupled with slow burning piano riffs and string work. But thats not to say Mikal has to grind the tempo down to have an effect, far from it. His upbeat and unshackled mix of garage rock and bar room blues pierces with precision. The beefier, more defined production and fuller sounds produced on this record really see him begin to fill out the potential his previous effort outlined. He punches this sense of satisfaction even further through the more adventurous structures sketched around the album and his use of deliciously infectious melody takes MCII up a few notches higher.
Cronin’s self titled debut saw the multi instrumentalist get off to a really good start but its follow up see’s him take the ball and run with it. He’s not only crafted a body of work bold enough to pry him from previous ties and creative associations, but he’s put together a record that serves as an inspiring example to other solo artists.