While Mikal Cronin's previous work shared a lot in common with longtime partner-in-crime Ty Segall's fuzzed-out garage-psych, 'MCII' finds him shedding much of the psych and adding a heavy dose of power-pop, and to excellent effect. Mikal has always leaned towards poppier, more hook-laden territory than Segall, but this album finds him really growing into a first-rate songwriter of infectious, just-plain-catchy tunes.
The fuzz hasn't been abandoned, however. Songs like "Shout It Out" and "See It My Way" will immediately shift from light, acoustic balladry to all-out, "amps to 11" grungy garage-rock, without ever losing the sunny-yet-wistful vibe that permeates the album. The lyrics, though dealing in the standard "love" and "loves lost" realm, are top-notch (even if a bit sugary-sweet at times), which is something of a rarity among many modern garage acts. Cronin's mastery of loud-quiet dynamics is on full display as well, recalling 90's grunge more than modern garage, as evidenced by the stellar string-laden rocker "Change."
'MCII' might not have been the album I was expecting, or even hoping for from Mikal Cronin, but after a few listens there was really no resisting his charming, hook-heavy and harmonies-laden power pop. This album finds Cronin stepping out of Segall's shadow, proving he's an excellent songwriter in his own right. Considering he played every instrument on the album--other than the occasional blistering guitar solo from Segall--he's also an immensely talented musician, almost annoyingly so to someone like me who struggles to play even one instrument.
And I have a feeling he'll be annoying more than a handful of songwriters for many years to come.