Mikal Cronin 'MCIII' (album stream)

Mikal Cronin 'MCIII' (album stream)
California singer-songwriter Mikal Cronin is set to return with his appropriately titled third LP, MCIII, next week — and Exclaim! has got the exclusive Canadian stream of the new record, so you can give it an early listen.
 
MCIII hears Cronin taking the reins, arranging and playing nearly the entire album himself — including an array unusual instruments like the tzouras, French horn, saxophone and trumpet, though he also gets some help from a recently recruited string quartet. At its heart, the new record is a collection of sunsoaked pop songs, but lush orchestral bursts like the one that opens the album on "Turn Around" hint at something less simple.
 
Divided into two distinct halves, the album's Side A focuses on "a shimmering tsunami of furious, undeniable pop songs," while Side B takes a bit of a more introspective approach. A mini concept album, the final six songs are a personal coming-of-age story, exploring Cronin's time after leaving home to go to school in the Pacific Northwest — a "shifting point" that eventually led him down the musical path he's still on.
 
From the beachy guitars on "Made My Mind Up" to the infectious cowbell plonking away on "Say," to the sad, simple acoustic guitars on "I've Been Loved," Cronin is an expert at using interesting instrumentation to evoke a full range of emotions. But not to worry — good old rock'n'roll still shines through with tracks like "ii) Gold."
 
"I'm finding a more successful way of working those unexpected elements and textures and instruments into a rock record, of exploring that wormhole and mushing everything together harmoniously," Cronin said in a statement. "I like riding the line between the two. I like finding new ways to bring different musical worlds together."
 
You can hear him do just that by hitting play below. MCIII arrives on May 5 via Merge.