Mikal Cronin's first solo voyage into the realm of garage-pop went down a storm: the self-titled debut garnered massive praise and a heap of passionate fans cooing over his indie-tinged revivalist sound. The record came at a changeable period of his life - it was the end of a relationship, college and life in his hometown of LA; it was deeply personal and chock full of emotion. MCII, Cronin's sophomore outing, is a fresh beginning. It's a celebration of the new, even if that's scary at times, rather than a reflection on the past.

'Weight' opens the record. There's fluttering piano arpeggios flirting with dream-pop guitars laced in fuzz – it's a melodic effort which at times verges on both shoegaze and pop-rock (shoe-pop?). Though it's got a light, summery tone, Cronin is frantic and anxious about the prospect of love: "I'm not ready for the fear and shame/ I'm not ready for the waking/ take me from myself." Preview number 'Shout It Out' follows, a track comparable to Van Morrison (at points) with jangly 60s-infused chords and a big, effortless chorus drenched in 'oohs' and earworm guitar. However, unlike Van Morrison, it has enormous wall-of-noise strumming.

In the time since 2011s eponymous album, Cronin has grown enormously. The old problems he crafted paeans on are diminished, and his world has turned far more adult. Where before he was dabbling with coming to terms with loss and journalling a real-life turbulence, he's now embarked upon a journey where the path isn't clear-cut: he now sculpts lyrics based on uncertainty and the joy of looking forwards, rather than dwelling on pains of the past. Though on the whole it seems that he's pretty glad with where's he's ended up, and he appears to be fairly excited about developments in his life (including a move upstate to San Francisco and an array of work with best bud Ty Segall), there's a thread of nervousness ingrained into the music. It's introspective and troubled.

Another major development from Mikal Cronin is in the music and instrumentation itself. Speaking to SPIN, he muses on this evolution: "I definitely see what the distortion pedal is capable of now... but I've been listening to a lot of music lately almost purely to listen to arrangements. I wrote some string parts for this record, which was new for me." Bursting open with neo-punk riffs and bombastic percussion, 'Change' is destined to pack a punch live. It's brash, roaring and savage. Cronin retains a spark of lo-fi surf guitar á la Wavves, and there's a surprise violin appearance (utterly badass) but the rampant pace of the track and battery of distorted axes ensures this is something that will get crowds exploding in glee. 'Am I Wrong' has what sounds like improvised blues piano and flutes draped over bustling country-rock. Oh, and a face-melting guitar solo... there's so many haphazard noises that somehow gel flawlessly.

Mikal Cronin's records play almost like a diary. His lyrics are intricate and personal, detailing his feelings, ponderings and life events; that's often common when it comes to musicians, but Cronin's delivery has gravitas and an honest 'realness' – it often feels like he's singing to you, baring his innermost thoughts. His introductory LP was a more pensive, grief-stricken collection, but on MCII we have tracks of panicky excitement, tracks of the future and optimism. Not only are his lyrics and themes wonderfully whittled, his fretwork is phenomenal; the resulting combination is a release that has the capacity to astonish on your first listen.