At the start of Mikal Cronin's second album, last May's MCII, after a brief piano arpeggio to open the light, airy "Weight," the San Francisco garage songwriter admits an insecurity: "I've been starting over for a long time," he sings over a strummed guitar and double-time snare beat. "I'm not ready for another day / I fail at feeling new."
The line's emblematic of the meta-internal struggle any aspirational twentysomething living in America today might face, but it's also represents the growing pains Cronin's confronted in his young career. Now 28, he's spent his adulthood entirely on the road, first as bassist for longtime friend Ty Segall, a gig he maintains today. He owes work ethic also to Thee Oh Sees, the San Franciscan garage foursome with whom Segall regularly tours, but his creativity has limits.
"It took a lot of thought and experimentation to even record a song," he says of his eponymous, 2011 solo debut, alluding to differences in melody and fuzz infestation between that and 2009's Reverse Shark Attack, a Segall collaboration. "Once that cemented itself and I was able to tour a bunch, I had a clearer idea of where I started and what I'd established myself as."
Last year, Cronin toyed with violins, violas, and pianos – instruments not typically associated with garage rock – to produce MCII, his first on Merge Records.
"I'd like to get more in-depth with arrangements and experiment with different instrumentation," he muses. "There's a lot you can do with garage or psychedelic rock that'll help it become something besides a bunch of pop songs. Writing on a piano allows you to do things that you wouldn't normally do."
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