Mikal Cronin

Seeker

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AllMusic Review by

After releasing the impressive classic rock-leaning MCIII in 2015, Mikal Cronin pivoted to spending a few years playing and recording with his old friend Ty Segall's band. When he did turn back to his own muse, he spent time holed up in a cabin in the California hills reflecting on recent heartbreak and writing songs. With the help of producer Jason Quiver of Papercuts, Segall and members of his band including guitrarist Emmett Kelly of Cairo Gang, Cronin set about putting them on tape. Much like the expansive, dense music on MCIII, Seeker isn't anything close to resembling his early power pop in the garage sound. This is huge, imposing music that's clothed in full arrangements of layered guitars, swelling background vocals, various keys and orchestral strings with Cronin singing with fierce passion and rueful regret. It builds on the sturdy frame of MCIII and delivers bigger emotions, trickier melodies and more sound. The opening one-two punch of "Shelter" and "Show Me" is a perfect table setter; two wide-screen ballads that let the listener know that Cronin is aiming for the heights and hitting them with ease. Both songs have the clastrophic, almost murky feel of the darker side of AOR; "Shelter" comes across like a mix of Led Zeppelin mystery and Tom Petty swagger, "Show Me" is like a distant cousin of Petty's "Mary Jane's Last Dance," as played by Neil Young & Crazy Horse circa Zuma. The rest of the album doesn't stray too far from these classic rock influences and the ghost of Petty hangs heavily over songs like the chiming "Fire" and "Caravan," which sounds like the dark timeline Traveling Wiburys thanks to the minor chords and evil boogie beat. "I've Got a Reason" goes one generation further back and lifts the Beatles' "Dear Prudence" while adding a layer of metallic grit and Cronin's pleading vocals. No matter the stylistic variation found on Seeker --- and it goes from spare acoustic ballads (On the Shelf") to raging rockers that deserve to be cranked real loud ("Guardian Well") -- Cronin's songs are hard-hitting, sticky and emotionally wrenching, the band plays with passionate fire and the production goes a long way toward capturing a live in the studio feel that's loose and rambling. Fans of Cronin's early, less complicated work might long for a return to those days, but those days are long gone. For anyone who thought MCIII was heading in a direction that sounded promising, Seeker arrives at the destination in a tumbling, exciting cloud of dust, sound and craft.

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