Review: Miguel's 'Kaleidoscope Dream'
Colorful R&B album is a runaway success
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While you’re losing it over that Frank Ocean album, another set this year can scratch that itch, and perhaps more efficiently.
Miguel’s “Kaleidescope Dream” is a relevant, saucy R&B adventure that incorporates rock, funk, electronica, soul and pop not out of novelty, but guardless necessity. The 25-year-old’s second album has more pronounced arrangements, and a unique combination of producers like Jerry Wonda, Pop & Oak and even Miguel Pimentel himself, on growing hit “Adorn.” Salaam Remi -- whose fingerprints sunk into retro grooves of similarly-minded old souls like Adele and Amy Winehouse -- helmed the lush title track and searing single-in-the-making “How Many Drinks?”.
As with that title, and “Pussy Is Mine” and “Do You…”, Miguel isn’t making capital-S Serious R&B music on every song, and even defaults to genre chestnuts like rhyming “pants” with “dance,” bless his heart. But then he’ll hit you with surprisingly delicious refrains like on sizzling “Arch & Point,” between the bars of 808s and distorted guitars: “Arch your back and point your toes.” “Where’s the Fun in Forever” freshens up the classic request to celebrate good times, with the bass going on a cardio workout while the drum lines are just chugging away at 70 mph on a flat, straight highway. Alicia Keys is along for the ride.
All the while is Miguel’s versatile vocals, recorded close to the mic and under control. Stars like Usher and Trey Songz make their erotic declarations in their loudest voice possible, like, “DROP YOUR PANTIES, NOW WE SEX,” but Miguel weaves his way around negative space and washy beats in his lust, like on Prince-ly “Use Me.” “Don’t Look Back” borrows lyric lines from the Zombies’ “Time of the Season” and “Kaleidoscope Dream” utilizes the beat from Eminem’s immensely popular “My Name Is,” and in neither case of borrowing is it obnoxious.
“Is there a God? / Is he watching? … But if not / what are we doing?” he sings on tasteful closer “Candles in the Sun,” signaling the end of an album that’s a little more heightened and a little less desperate than top 40 fashions. Every song feels special and tight, whether he’s singing on heaven or bedroom realms. And speaking of bedrooms, do not sleep on this album. You may want to sleep with it.