Mikal Cronin Finds the Groundwork for a Classic with 'Seeker'

Photo: Max Mendelsohn / Courtesy of Pitch Perfect PR

After some adventurous wilderness time, Mikal Cronin builds on his indie rock style to draft a compelling new direction with Seeker.

Mikal Cronin


25 October 2019

After his trilogy of solo albums and some time playing with Ty Segall, Mikal Cronin must have been ready for a change. He left the garages of California for a cabin in Idyllwild, California, with the time and isolation to overcome any lingering writer's block and to find his way to something new. The plan sort of worked. Cronin came up with new sounds and a strong set of songs, but an arson-sparked wildfire drove him from his retreat after just a month. The evacuation hardly slowed him down, as he returned to normal life and put together Seeker, marking a nice shift in songwriting for him.

From the opening moments, Cronin presents a more complex sensibility. "Shelter" begins with toms leading the way; Cronin's guitar must respond to the rhythms the rest of the way. The song never drones, but neither does it build into a traditional pop structure, falling somewhere in between, all heightened by a string section. "A seeker always finds an answer," Cronin sings. "It may not be the one you want." Cronin does seek on this record, and "Shelter" sets that exploratory tone well.

The rest of the disc twists his retro perspective. Cronin's long been part of the West Coast garage sound, but on Seeker, he turns more toward classic rock as an influence. "Show Me" opens with a riff startlingly similar to Tom Petty's "Mary Jane's Last Dance". It veers away from that song by the time Cronin reaches the chorus, but Petty still makes for a good marker. Much of the backing on this album comes from Segall's Freedom Band, but they lean into Cronin's vision rather than doing what fans might expect from them.

Cronin has spoken on the influence that the Beatles' White Album had on his most recent work, but that line's a bit of a misdirection. It speaks more to the recording sense required rather than the album itself. Seeker coheres more, and rarely feels like Liverpool. Cronin takes much of his influence from just a little later as if he'd listened to 1970s radio. "I've Got Reason" makes an interesting exception. It only drifts back as far as 1990s alt-rock but interweaves some Beatles-style guitar lines. You might leave it wishing Archers of Loaf would cover "Dear Prudence".

Fire provides fitting imagery for the record, as Cronin speaks of both its destructive potential and its power in rebirth. Cronin finds himself in that period right now. There's no need to recreate himself fully, but he does move into the next iteration of his art. It doesn't show up fully formed, though. The center here should provide confidence, but Cronin sticks close to it. There's some risk it moving into this sound, but little risk within it. We get saxophones, but they could be more unhinged. Cronin could vary his tempos more.

On Seeker, we get a solid album from a talented musician, but it feels more like the groundwork for a classic. Hopefully, that one's imminent (and arson-proof).







Greta Gerwig's Adaptation of Loneliness in Louisa May Alcott's 'Little Women'

Greta Gerwig's film adaptation of Louisa May Alcott's classic novel Little Women strays from the dominating theme of existential loneliness.


The Band's Discontented Third LP, 1970's 'Stage Fright', Represented a World Braving Calamity

Released 50 years ago this month, the Band's Stage Fright remains a marker of cultural unrest not yet remedied.


Natalie Schlabs Starts Living the Lifetime Dream With "That Early Love" (premiere + interview)

Unleashing the power of love with a new single and music video premiere, Natalie Schlabs is hoping to spread the word while letting her striking voice be heard ahead of Don't Look Too Close, the full-length album she will release in October.


Rufus Wainwright Makes a Welcome Return to Pop with 'Unfollow the Rules'

Rufus Wainwright has done Judy Garland, Shakespeare, and opera, so now it's time for Rufus to rediscover Rufus on Unfollow the Rules.


Jazz's Denny Zeitlin and Trio Get Adventurous on 'Live at Mezzrow'

West Coast pianist Denny Zeitlin creates a classic and adventurous live set with his long-standing trio featuring Buster Williams and Matt Wilson on Live at Mezzrow.


The Inescapable Violence in Netflix's I'm No Longer Here (Ya no estoy aqui)

Fernando Frías de la Parra's I'm No Longer Here (Ya no estoy aqui) is part of a growing body of Latin American social realist films that show how creativity can serve a means of survival in tough circumstances.


Arlo McKinley's Confessional Country/Folk Is Superb on 'Die Midwestern'

Country/folk singer-songwriter Arlo McKinley's debut Die Midwestern marries painful honesty with solid melodies and strong arrangements.


Viserra Combine Guitar Heroics and Female Vocals on 'Siren Star'

If you ever thought 2000s hard rock needed more guitar leads and solos, Viserra have you covered with Siren Star.


Ryan Hamilton & The Harlequin Ghosts Honor Their Favorite Songs With "Oh No" (premiere)

Ryan Hamilton's "Oh No" features guest vocals from Kay Hanley of Letters to Cleo, and appears on Nowhere to Go But Everywhere out 18 September.


Songwriter Shelly Peiken Revisits "Bitch" for '2.0' Album (premiere)

A monster hit for Meredith Brooks in the late 1990s, "Bitch" gets a new lease on life from its co-creator, Shelly Peiken. "It's a bit moodier than the original but it touts the same universal message," she says.


Leila Sunier Delivers Stunning Preface to New EP via "Sober/Without" (premiere)

With influences ranging from Angel Olsen to Joni Mitchell and Perfume Genius, Leila Sunier demonstrates her compositional prowess on the new single, "Sober/Without".


Speed the Plough Members Team with Mayssa Jallad for "Rush Hour" (premiere)

Caught in a pandemic, Speed the Plough's Baumgartners turned to a faraway musical friend for a collaboration on "Rush Hour" that speaks to the strife and circumstance of our time.


Great Peacock Stares Down Mortality With "High Wind" (premiere + interview)

Southern rock's Great Peacock offer up a tune that vocalist Andrew Nelson says encompasses their upcoming LP's themes. "You are going to die one day. You can't stop the negative things life throws at you from happening. But, you can make the most of it."


The 80 Best Albums of 2015

Travel back five years ago when the release calendar was rife with stellar albums. 2015 offered such an embarrassment of musical riches, that we selected 80 albums as best of the year.


Buridan's Ass and the Problem of Free Will in John Sturges' 'The Great Escape'

Escape in John Sturge's The Great Escape is a tactical mission, a way to remain in the war despite having been taken out of it. Free Will is complicated.


The Redemption of Elton John's 'Blue Moves'

Once reviled as bloated and pretentious, Elton John's 1976 album Blue Moves, is one of his masterpieces, argues author Matthew Restall in the latest installment of the 33 1/3 series.


Whitney Take a Master Class on 'Candid'

Although covers albums are usually signs of trouble, Whitney's Candid is a surprisingly inspired release, with a song selection that's eclectic and often obscure.


King Buzzo Continues His Reign with 'Gift of Sacrifice'

King Buzzo's collaboration with Mr. Bungle/Fantômas bassist Trevor Dunn expands the sound of Buzz Osborne's solo oeuvre on Gift of Sacrifice.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.