That first album introduced us to a musician with far more creativity than most supporting bassists exhibit, even securing him an interview with a major label for the follow-up. Thankfully Cronin knew his peppy yet introspective indie pop was not created to be molded into hit single material. Instead he signed with veteran indie Merge for his sophomore release, inauspiciously titled MCII. Where the previous set showed a penchant for Beach Boys harmonies and taut Who-styled song structures, the new one submerges those basic concepts under snappy, even toe tapping tunes. The production, mixing and general sound is substantially improved - the album was mixed and mastered at the high profile Fantasy Studios in Berkeley, CA, an idea he borrowed from Segall - and Cronin, working nearly as a one-man band, flaunts his sax, piano, and string chart writing chops.
It's not a novel approach; fellow Merge label mates the Rosebuds and Imperial Teen among many others have been slinging out a similar if perhaps less idiosyncratic version of loud/soft pure pop diced with the occasional scuzzy guitar without half as much ink as Cronin has generated in the past month. But from the stark opening piano chords of "Weight," Cronin's sure sense of dynamics, vulnerable voice, multiple overdubbed guitars, and the sheer tunefulness of the production beckons listeners into a 40 minute whirlwind of spot-the-influence while shaking their hips to tunes begging to be played over again. It's music that won't let you sit still long enough to peruse the dark, lyrical underbelly of a conflicted singer/songwriter struggling to overcome fears of loneliness and not able to "find that peace of mind." Violin, some guitar and drums on two tracks are the only instruments not played by Cronin whose audacious talents are never insular or stilted as self-productions can be. Rather, MCII feels like it's performed by a full-fledged band of equals.
The vibe is slowed by the reflective ballad "Don't Let Me Go," a home recorded track stripped down to acoustic guitar and Cronin harmonizing with himself as he questions the breakup of a relationship asking his ex "is it my fault we could not grow?" Those mirrored solo harmonies appear throughout the disc, reaching a zenith on the REM-styled "See It My Way," a driving psychedelic rocker with a twisted guitar lead that seems spliced in from some fuzzed out '60s garage outfit. The sense of confidence Cronin exudes throughout makes this feel like his fifth album, not his second. It seems he's got many more where this came from.
One thing is certain though; after the bold assurance of MCII, his shy, retiring Clark Kent sideman days are over for good.
4 out of 5 stars
Killin it. So damn sexy
ooooohhhh, I'm so excited!! I can't wait to see them together!
come on man you know you got a bromance. you probably still rock that OutKast…
Yes, 14 is the correct answer. I'll pass your info along to the group's manager,…