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Mikal Cronin: Making Sense Of It All

Mikal Cronin's "Apathy" is a surly, snarling, thoroughly enjoyable two-and-a-half-minute rocker.
Courtesy of the artist
Mikal Cronin's "Apathy" is a surly, snarling, thoroughly enjoyable two-and-a-half-minute rocker.

Mikal Cronin's self-titled debut came as a pleasant surprise: a bracing, 30-minute blast of unpolished but smartly arranged garage-punk. The young Orange County multi-instrumentalist began to attract attention in underground circles last year for his work in the surf-punk band Charlie and the Moonhearts and the Reverse Shark Attack EP, a collaboration with his high-school friend Ty Segall. This September brought Mikal Cronin, an album "conceived and recorded as a sort of therapy to help cope with adjusting to life post-college."

If you seek profound wisdom rendered in song, Cronin's music may not be for you, but if you can empathize with the inchoate angst of confused young adults in transition — or love no-frills rock in any form — he belongs on your radar. "Apathy" is a surly, snarling, thoroughly enjoyable two-and-a-half-minute rocker whose lyrical sentiments basically boil down to "God, get off my back." The chorus neatly sums Cronin's agenda: "I don't want apathy / I don't want empathy / I don't want everything / I don't want anything." What he mostly wants, it seems, is time and space to figure out what he does want — and both are in short supply during tough times.

Musically, Cronin sticks with bare-bones production and standard classic-rock tropes, but his ear for inventive arrangements sets him apart from the pack. Cronin even finds a way to fit a free-jazz sax solo into "Apathy" without breaking a sweat or compromising its punky dishabille. Although Cronin likely hasn't yet figured it out himself, it'll be exciting to see where he heads next.

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Rachel Smith
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