Mikal Cronin: MCIII (Merge) Review | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Tuesday, July 14th, 2020  

Mikal Cronin

MCIII

Merge

May 05, 2015 Issue #53 - April/May 2015 - Tame Impala Bookmark and Share


Mikal Cronin's stated ambition for his third full-length? "Go big." One spin of this one and it's pretty clear he did: the arrangements are hyped-up and lush, the harmonies are soaring, and there is at least one bona fide prog opus ("Gold," on which Cronin employs a Greek tzouras he picked up on tour for a breakdown worthy of dancing druids).

Indeed, this is Cronin's vision of rock and roll excess, though one suspects his machinations are aimed more squarely at the craft than the lifestylefinding that perfect passing chord to wrap up a hook, that perfectly satisfying fuzztone to propel it into the aggressive '90s-aware territory he updates and embodies (and serves up as dependably as other modern power-poppers like The New Pornographers, Sloan, or The Shins.)

"Made My Mind Up" is a gem, built around a huge chorus and guitar hook, bouncing along on piano arpeggios and Cronin's chorus of "Just tell me when it hurts." It fades right into the horn-section-enhanced "Say," which finds Cronin stacking those big vocal harmonies that increasingly define his thing. Long gone are the washed-out vocals of that first LP, and while he remains tied to the garage-rock scene by virtue of his continued collaboration with Ty Segall, his own solo efforts are increasingly of a different breed.

But back to that prog-rock thread: side two is essentially a concept album in miniature, complete with Close to the Edge-worthy roman numerals to demarcate each song. Of course these songs are more replete with emotional excess than any ostentatious show of musicianship. In fact, the most bad-ass of the bunch (number IV, if you wondered) is "Ready," a straight-up, grunge-laden barnburner with a killer chorus. Let it serve as an illustration: no matter how ornate Cronin gets in his arrangements, it's his simple faculty with melody and pop structure that keeps him winning. (www.mikalcronin.com)

Author rating: 7/10

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