Exclaim!'s Best of 2013: Top 20 Pop & Rock Albums, Part Two

9. Mikal Cronin

Despite having released a rather good debut album back in 2011, Mikal Cronin has been better known as being Ty Segall's sidekick. This is the year that changed that.

Simply put, MCII is as close as anybody got to pop perfection in 2013. Its mix of fuzzed-out guitars, Beach Boy-esque harmonies and Phil Spector-like production is hard to resist, especially when delivered in glorious bite-sized portions, which it does ten times over.

It might only be his second solo album, but the fact that Cronin's spent a decade honing his skills with so many other acts speaks volumes, because everything here is so perfectly realized. The songs are hummable, packed with catchy hooks and never overstaying their welcome, plus the lyrics have just the right amount of melancholy and optimism. There's definitely a sense of maturity, but in the best possible way.

Admittedly, he's hardly reinvented the wheel here, but he has polished that wheel, making it run so smoothly that it's hard to find reason to complain. This is pop for the sake of making great music to share; there's a reason it still sounds so fresh seven months on, and there's every chance that will be true a year from now, too. Miss out at your peril. (Michael Edwards)