MCII

  • Record Label: Merge
  • Release Date: May 7, 2013
Metascore
84

Universal acclaim - based on 26 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 25 out of 26
  2. Negative: 0 out of 26
Buy On
  1. May 7, 2013
    91
    When artists soften with time, their music often loses some of its appeal; rarely does a songwriter nail his voice as successfully as Cronin has here.
  2. May 20, 2013
    90
    As vital as the air that you breathe, you need this album in your life.
  3. May 10, 2013
    90
    Over ten songs detailing a young man's despair and self-doubt, he delivers a performance that's both deeply confident and convincingly vulnerable, replete with stark, piano-based meditations and fuzz-pedal-abetted fury.
  4. 90
    Already so many people have been championing 2013 as the strongest year for music in recent memory, and they’re not wrong, but here’s an album that has the punch and wit to stick around with the best.
  5. Uncut
    May 2, 2013
    90
    MCII hits you with the immediacy of a record that you're listening to for the first time but feel like you've already heard a thousand times and yet still aren't bored of. [Jun 2013, p.70]
  6. On MCII, it’s a dual-edged sword that he brandishes skillfully into a scintillating sophomore record, one stacked with some of the year’s best pop-rock tunes.
  7. May 2, 2013
    84
    He's an excellent pop craftsman who knows how to turn the power up for maximum effect.
  8. 83
    As an album set out to reappropriate pop rock, MCII succeeds.
  9. May 7, 2013
    82
    Far from formulaic, Cronin’s sophomore release, MCII, is a nuanced collage of quintessentially “California” pop songs--or, at the very least, how the rest of the country perceives such songs to look and feel.
  10. Mojo
    May 20, 2013
    80
    Cronin delvers timeless, classic pop that evades cliches. [Jun 2013, p.86]
  11. May 20, 2013
    80
    Cronin is never changing the pace or tone just for the heck of it, rather seeking out different ways for him to push himself as an artist, as some of the cross-references on MCII would suggest.
  12. May 14, 2013
    80
    While Cronin’s musical expertise belies his age, the existential struggles about which he sings--fear of the world, distrust of love, lack of self-confidence--do not.
  13. May 13, 2013
    80
    It’s a record that sees Mikal Cronin finding his way as a songwriter in his own right.
  14. May 13, 2013
    80
    Listen in and the lyrics soundtrack a mid-youth crisis ("I've been starting over for a long time," Cronin croons as the album opens), but not so as to dent the overall impression of an ozone high.
  15. Magnet
    May 10, 2013
    80
    MCII never quite gets to the point of pastiche, but its fondness for grunge-era distortion and '60s-style harmonies makes it entirely contemporary. [No. 98, p.53]
  16. May 10, 2013
    80
    MCII sounds much more concise and meticulously assembled than any of Segall's efforts.
  17. May 9, 2013
    80
    Part of how Cronin succeeds in making the listener feel good are his failures: the outsized ambition and the pushing of his practical capacities remind the listener than they’re being spoken to by an everyman.
  18. May 6, 2013
    80
    Power pop may not be as ubiquitous or even as relevant as it was in the Raspberries’ prime, but it still can be done well... just ask Mikal Cronin.
  19. May 6, 2013
    80
    This is an album that exudes playfulness, treating genre as something that's malleable and isn't afraid to poke open wounds if it means creating a piece of art that connects emotionally.
  20. Alternative Press
    May 2, 2013
    80
    "Piano Mantra" is ambitious, but he pulls it all off in an epic way--which could be said for MCII as a whole. [Jun 2013, p.92]
  21. May 2, 2013
    80
    Cronin offers new experiments on MCII, but errs just enough on the side of caution to create a fantastic pop record.
  22. May 2, 2013
    80
    The melodies sound effortless, but there’s complexity under the surface.
  23. May 23, 2013
    70
    That MCII can jump from sound to sound isn’t a surprise; but at times it does make for a slightly schizophrenic listen.
  24. May 9, 2013
    70
    If Mikal Cronin had a lot going on in his life (exiting college, a relationship, and life in L.A.) around the release of his 2011 debut album, MCII is the sound of someone who moved on and found solid ground.
  25. May 6, 2013
    70
    Cronin's second album is a step forward from his debut and shows off a guy with enough talent to step out from behind Segall's shadow and make it on his own.
  26. Q Magazine
    Jun 17, 2013
    60
    It's a pleasant listen but never quite sparks. [Jul 2013, p.100]

Awards & Rankings

User Score
8.4

Universal acclaim- based on 40 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 5 out of 5
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 5
  3. Negative: 0 out of 5
  1. May 7, 2013
    8
    It's Mikal Cronin's magnum opus, with a more clean, fresh and more polished sound, that's been very well produced to make a short and sweetIt's Mikal Cronin's magnum opus, with a more clean, fresh and more polished sound, that's been very well produced to make a short and sweet solo album. Garage rock has just never sounded so candied. Full Review »
  2. Dec 1, 2013
    9
    I'm an aspiring musician, and this album is basically everything I'd want my music to sound like & how I'd want it to be made. It's a rockI'm an aspiring musician, and this album is basically everything I'd want my music to sound like & how I'd want it to be made. It's a rock record packed with infectious melodies, crunchy distorted guitars, clear production & emotionally earnest lyrics. The subject matter focuses mostly around making tough transitions in life, occasionally enhanced with themes of dysfunctional relationships & confessional self-analysis. It reaches that great balance of being vivid enough to come across sincere & honest, while never being so personal that it's alienating. I can very easily see people in these kinds of situations identifying with songs here, and there are even a couple I can say that for about myself. The instrumentation's also worth noting, since Mikal recorded nearly every instrument on this album by himself & yet MCII has a very “live” feel to it. It doesn't sound like one guy recording a bunch of tracks on top of each other as much as it sounds like a band with a set of well-written songs jamming in their garage. There's also a great sense of dynamics in the production. Assuming he produced the album too, he knows exactly how distorted/clean the guitars should be at any given time, or how loud or soft a section of a track should be to make it more interesting within the generally typical verse-chorus song structures. And while each track definitely stays in the same genre, there's a decent amount of diversity within it. You've got the mid-paced classic folk-rock of “Peace of Mind”, followed by the fast dirty garage-punk of “Change”. “Piano Mantra” is probably the best example of this, starting as just that in the first minute or so before strings blend in & it beautifully builds gradually in instrumentation from there, especially hitting a peak when filthy distortion introduces the electric guitar part about 2/3 in. Easily one of my favorite albums of the year so far

    Top 5 tracks: Weight, Change, Piano Mantra, Shout It Out, Peace of Mind
    Score: 92/100
    Full Review »
  3. Jun 1, 2013
    9
    The explosive sophomore album by the uprising indie star really packs a punch. The tuneful melodies offer an immaculate experience to theThe explosive sophomore album by the uprising indie star really packs a punch. The tuneful melodies offer an immaculate experience to the senses and put a grin on your face. Mikal's poppy, upbeat sound creates a soothing, warm summer afternoon feeling. Even though summer hasn't officially started, this could be indie rock's summer anthem album.

    The delirious power chords accompanied by attractive vocals and relaxing piano pieces blend together in a very unexpected way. For some reason, this collaboration of instruments is a match made in Heaven. From the opening notes on "Weight", there is a sultry magic in the air. Every track drips with personality and brings something new and unexpected. The heavy "Shout It Out" transitions to the harmonious "See It My Way", which then leads to the psychedelic "Peace of Mind", and so forth.

    At first, Mikal Cronin was virtually unknown to me. I figured that he was just another young kid trying to make a musical debut but would eventually fail. I was utterly mistaken. Mr. Cronin has proved his rightful spot along with some of indie rock's biggest names. As long as he keeps his unique and catchy sound, he's good to go.
    Full Review »