Music

First Listen: Mikal Cronin, 'MCII'

NPR | May 7, 2013 5:08 p.m.

Contributed By:

Stephen Thompson

Mikal Cronin's new album, MCII, comes out May 7.

Mikal Cronin's new album, MCII, comes out May 7.

Courtesy of the artist, Denee Petracek

The term “garage rock” too often suggests a disregard for craftsmanship — the idea that distorted guitars and agreeably blaring arrangements leave no room for impeccability. But Mikal Cronin‘s second album, MCII, mixes shambling rock with a perfectionist ear with quality control, as its star (who plays most of the instruments himself) applies a beachy sparkle to 37 minutes of fresh, fun rock ‘n’ roll.

Thematically, MCII focuses on one guy’s efforts to process sweeping changes in his life — getting older, moving to a new town, falling into a new relationship — so it makes sense that it feels like the work of a young artist who’s both newly grown-up and still growing. But the sneaky sophistication of its pop-rock sound is what really makes the record enduring: Inward-looking but notably less angst-ridden than its predecessor, MCII feels positively stuffed with briskly alluring, summer-ready, California-sunny earworms.

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