There are songs and styles that will grab me immediately, tapping into the portion of my inner being that never truly exited my old college radio studio. That sliver of me flips through the heavy rotation shelf for all eternity, eager to find the next artist, track, album, anything that holds the echoing sound of all the college rock I favored to that point and yet takes a little step forward, shifting the dynamics with a revised outlook, an instrumental innovation, or a unique layering of studio sounds. It is classic and new all at once, urgently asserting itself as the next entrant on a long playlist that stretches back to the very first urgent jangles of R.E.M. or maybe the jabbing provocations of the Clash. It doesn’t have to sound like those ancestors — or any predecessors really — but some elusive, unmistakable spirit should linger like a morning mist.
The nostalgic helplessness often comes over me when I hear the finest offerings of Mikal Cronin, and that’s the case with his latest single. A herald of Seeker, Cronin’s fourth solo album, “Shelter” eschews any sort of slow build, opening with a clamorous, but obviously intricately arranged, intermingling of sounds. It is fully formed, lightly psychedelic and restlessly explorative, meant to fill a night. The song is like something the Flaming Lips might have come up with if their drugs were less potent. I want to get lost in it, letting its mysteries sink in rather than be solved. For me, “Shelter” is practically irresistible.