Mikal Cronin Ventures Forth Into the Land of Clean Melodies

Everyone has that one friend who likes to listen to the same song over and over. Maybe this friend has good taste in music and has even introduced you to some things you’ve liked, but your ardor faded after she refused to cede control of the iTunes remote one too many times. You’re petty like that.

And so it came to pass that the first time I heard Ty Segall band member Mikal Cronin’s debut solo album, I loved it. The second time, I still loved it. The hundredth time, I couldn’t even hear it. I took a little break. But now that he’s back with a whole new album of Mikal Cronin songs, we can begin the cycle again. Oh boy!

I’m constantly amazed that there are rock and roll songs left to be written at this late date, let alone good ones, but Mr. Cronin managed to write 10 for his last album that were catchy as heck without sounding like the musical equivalent of 1960s cosplay. He also struck a satisfying balance between pop hooks, punk distortion, and psychedelic freakouts. Hardly reinventing the wheel, but I’ll eat my keyboard if he didn’t craft a wheel that was damn near perfect.

Now he’s gone and impressed us even more with his sophomore effort MCII, which sees him venturing further into the land of clean melodies and emotional vulnerability, a far cry from the stuff he once played with Ty. The noisy releases are still there, but they’re interspersed with lovely piano and violin arrangements to create an ebb and flow that goes nicely with lyrics about frustration, ambivalence and frustration re: ambivalence. The new material has already been compared to Pavement, Dinosaur Jr., Elliot Smith, and (perhaps most terrifying for Mike) Nirvana, and I’m going to add fuel to the fire and say I hear some Ben Kweller in there, too (it’s also clear that Mr. Cronin has heard a George Harrison solo record or two).

Mikal Cronin and his scary-tight band have been playing a bunch of shows in support of the album, and if past shows are any indication, he’s going to kill it tonight (Weds., Dec. 11) at Webster Hall. Go to see how he manages all those new instruments live, go to get down and dirty in the mosh pit, or go just to gaze at his adorable, John Cusack-esque face as he croons your favorite song.

And you know what? I’m totally still listening to this album over and over, despite the fact that it’s been out for months now. Has Cronin made a timeless classic, or do I just miss my repetition-loving friend? It may very well be both.