Mikal Cronin – ‘MCIII’

By Lucinda Livingstone

‘MCIII’ is the third album from noisy pop songwriter and musician Mikal Cronin. It’s bursting at the seams with indulgent orchestral arrangements and radiant pop melodies. Every song gives full-bodied warm tones; all the arrangements done by Cronin himself. This was definitely his ‘go big’ approach to writing when lurking in third album territory last year.

Side A is an abundance of undisputed pop-rock songs. Single ‘Make My Mind Up’ is a definite highlight with a driven beat and shimmering reverberating vocals. ‘I’ve Been Loved’ has more of a minimal composition but Cronin manages to deliver some short spouts of experimental guitar lines behind the instrumental giving it a new dimension.

Continuing to Side B ‘MCIII’ transforms into a miniature concept record, built around the retelling of what Cronin calls his ‘coming-of-age’ story. This is a peculiar time to introduce this halfway through a record. His pop hooks and giant arrangements disintegrate into deeply personal lyrics (Alone, Different) and a fuzzier rhythm section, accompanied by subtle strings in places.

Songs like ‘Gold’ and ‘Control’ show a much darker side to Cronin. After he left California to pursue school in the Pacific Northwest he was alone and struggling with excruciating back pain. The lyrics throughout tell a story of this. Using a full electric band as oppose to the larger orchestral ensembles Cronin began with embody this perfectly. ‘Ready’ is noise driven and raw in tone, but so far removed from what we started with in track one ‘Turn Around’. It’s starting to show that Cronin might have been a bit ambitious with the many concepts and ideas he wanted to put across in just one record.

‘MCIII’ has some well crafted songs, and is filled with glistening vocal melodies and well thought out arrangements. It’s clear Cronin has a story to tell, and his songwriting is a testament to that, but essentially he’s written two very different records, which at times don’t compliment each other. If both had been released one after the other as separate records the concepts throughout may have become more accessible and showcased his versatility more.

LUCINDA LIVINGSTONE

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