One of the finest pop vocalists of the moment, with a terrific second album.
Hari Ashurst 2012-11-19
It's difficult to argue against 2012 being the year of RnB. From Frank Ocean's star-making channel ORANGE, a return to yearning for The xx and the continuing rise of The Weeknd: the big stories have revolved around interesting mutations of the genre.
By comparison, straighter-laced RnB singer Miguel has flown under the radar a little. But Kaleidoscope Dream makes a compelling case for him to sit comfortably alongside those aforementioned artists.
The record is his fourth release for the year, tying together the loose ends of a trilogy of EPs titled Art Dealer Chic Volumes 1-3. Those tracks were rough and sometimes pretty off-the-cuff; but despite an occasional sense of incompleteness, they still ranked as an exciting step up from Miguel's 2010 debut, All I Want Is You.
Kaleidoscope Dream continues that improvement, highlighting an artist in a real purple patch of songwriting. His biggest American hit to date, Adorn, opens, popping with electric melodies and charm. It's one of the most gorgeous pop songs so far this decade, deceptively simple and alluringly confident.
Do You… is another warm-hearted highlight, opening with the line "Do you like drugs?" before later switching playfully to, "Do you like hugs?". This humour and light-touch makes Miguel above all things likeable, capable of a sense of humility that eludes some of his peers.
While Miguel shows his humble side often on Kaleidoscope Dream, when it comes to his singing there's no holding back. It's here that he really shines, from the stunning rounds in the title track to moments like in How Many Drinks? where he swoons into falsetto, practically lifting off. On this evidence Miguel is one of the finest pop vocalists of the moment.
It's tough to find much at fault with Kaleidoscope Dream. On a bad day you might wonder if Miguel is capable of the type of narrative depth some of the year's best LPs display. He's a terrific songwriter, but not yet a great lyricist. His music is strangely traditional in its ambition and Kaleidoscope Dream is, above all, a collection of great pop songs.
But that it encourages this sort of nitpicking is probably a very good sign. So enjoy Kaleidoscope Dream for the rarity that it is: an unerringly consistent, very good pop record.