Mikal Cronin sounds like a really cool guy. They say you’re not supposed to judge the character of an artist by his artistic out put, but I can’t help it. Saxophone, flute and melodica are all employed judiciously on this album, as well as whistles and Brian Wilson-esque harmonies complete with chunky bass and gravelly guitars. And anyone with that caliber of finely tuned decision making skills has got to be a stand up dude in other respects.
It’s dangerously campy territory, dabbling in silly, unorthodox instrumentation and playing in a variety of musical styles. It can come off sounding a tad gimmicky, the pitfall of Beirut and otherwise nice bands. Instead Cronin’s shifty musical stylings sound more like the urgency of Neutral Milk Hotel, as though he was tearing around his warehouse of half broken, dusty music things and blowing into or banging on the ones he thought would give him the best interpretation of the noises he heard in his head in the most immediate time frame. It’s endearing without stepping over into its shudder-inducing counterpart – cute.
The album opens with the aforementioned Brian Wilson harmonies, a little flatter and dirtier than the semi-psychotic perfectionist would have allowed, but all the more fitting the one man garage band style. It’s a fantastic opener really, because if you didn’t know what to expect, as I didn’t, it can pretty much go any direction from there. It’s deliciously inventive yet genre-neutral territory. The track ends by diving into a Jethro Tull sounding flute solo, so you can use your imagination or your $9.99 to figure out how the hell he gets from point A to point B – and that’s just the first song.
Mikal Cronin winds down perfectly, with a classic guitar riff that sounds almost like Tom Petty opening up “Again and Again” and dissolving into a band from 20 years earlier with the following tune, “Hold on Me.” “Hold on Me” is very Sha Na Na nostalgic, reminiscent of bands like The Association, and I think this is what Ducky was talking about in Sam’s car when he couldn’t find one song that didn’t make him seriously ill. “They just don’t write love songs like they used to!” he cried. But they do now, Ducky. This guy does.