Mikal Cronin is still somewhat fresh off a year-long stint with the Ty Segall Band and earning a B.F.A. in music, and you can hear it all coalesce in MCII.
He took the rough garage rock and softened the edges with pop melodies and gentle sounds. With an obvious attention to detail, he arranged snarling electric guitars, plinking pianos, shambling drums and warm violins in a way that feels completely natural. Cronin easily works a surfy riff into the background of “I'm Done Runnin' From You” and introduces dramatic violin melodies to screechy feedback and heavy chords on “Change.”
For all of that sense of musical certainty, the lyrics reflect a lot of uncertainty about life. “Am I Wrong” packs the most insecurities with lines like “Help me out / Easy now, I'm losing my mind / I'm struggling to find / what I need to” or “Do I even know what I'm waiting for? / No, I want it now / Do I need it, though?"
Still, he sounds much less moody this time around. Maybe he doesn't know whether he's wrong, but he's being pretty lighthearted about it. Every angst-ridden wall of fuzz is overlaid with acoustic strumming suitable for a day at the beach. Gentle meets aggressive most satisfyingly through the album closer, “Piano Mantra,” with its somber piano chords and plaintive violin, the fuzzy guitar comes screeching in, like the musical equivalent of an emotional burst after trying too hard too bottle it all up.
The sounds on MCII might normally be as conflicted as Cronin feels, but he brought them together so naturally and beautifully, it feels right. He's not wrong.