Mikal Cronin – II (Merge)

Mikal Cronin - IIMikal Cronin was our year end champion back in 2011, topping our list of the best albums here at The Little Lighthouse with his debut solo album. He hails from the most active rock’n’roll scene in the past few years, from San Francisco. Out of many excellent bands and authors from out there, Mikal stands out with fully mature songwriting and diverse records. His new album achieved a great success in the ears of public and critic equally. He was given an honor of being published on Merge records, which put a lot of energy in promotion and Mikal became one of the best known faces in the indie rock world today. The record itself finds him in further exploring the world of adulthood. But don’t expect any answers from Cronin. Indeed, this record opens more questions than offering answers. Am I wrong? Do I shout? Do I let it go? Do I need it? Am I different man? Can I help you? Can I try? Have I been learning nothing all along? The only two answers we are given are “I’m not ready” and “I don’t know”.

Musically, the record reminds me on Love’s Forever Changes in the mood and usage of strings. The mood is melancholic, but it can also rock. Strings take a central role in several songs and Cronin employed real strings, rather than relying on synthesizers. Too bad that the track Better Man was not included in the album, but one can find it on the Garage Swim compilation and I recommend including it as the last track when listening to the record.

In short, exceptionally strong second album further establishes Cronin as a serious singer songwriter.

A few technical notes on the vinyl version. The “A” side of the vinyl is one of the best quality pressings I’ve seen in years. Very clean and consistent mastering throughout, equally in the inner and outer grooves of the record. Unfortunately, that can’t also be said for the “B” side, since my copy of the record has a slight eccentricity. There is nothing in the copy that would reveal what plant pressed my copy. The cover says that the record was mastered at Fantasy Studios in San Francisco, but it is unclear whether this is digital or vinyl master.

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