Mikal Cronin has gone big with his third solo LP. Opening track ‘Turn Around’ is a signal of intent, an orchestrated and emotional piece of complex pop that sounds a little like Andrew Bird, and showing off his formal music qualifications from CalArts. ‘Made My Mind Up’ is thumping powerpop with a sweet little guitar riff and then comes ‘Say’, a blitzkrieg of brilliantly arranged melodic garage rock where brass lines shadow guitars for anthemic effect. ‘Feel Like’ sounds like Alex Chilton, just Mikal and guitar until it bursts into full, orchestrated technicolour. Side One then ends with the string-soaked melancholy of ‘I’ve Been Loved’, another of his broken relationship songs.
Discussing ‘sides’ as if MCIII is vinyl-only seems appropriate in this context as his album sequencing seems like it's been sweated over in the old school style. The whole of the second side is given over to a six-song suite of one-word titles, largely about the pressures of moving to a new city. ‘Alone’ is ambitiously arranged, full of mournful horns and moody strings but with the same melodic core that cuts through the album. The stompy powerpop of ‘Gold’ sets your heart racing and ‘Ready’ is fast and energetic pop with a killer chorus, before the baroque pop ‘Different’ changes the mood completely and the elegant piano and acoustic guitar of ‘Circle’ closes the record on an almost Americana note.
It’s skillfully put together (a calling card for his producer/ arranger roles) and is a solid listen, with no filler and a couple of blisteringly standout tracks.