Miguel - Kaleidoscope Dream
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With the help of 2010’s “Sure Thing” and the Roots-hued buzz of “All I Want Is You,” Miguel Jontel’s ascension into R&B stardom seemed like a sure bet. He brings with him a swagger that takes the best of R. Kelly and Drake, and then rubs it together to develop a cohesive spread of crème de le crème foreplay. He most certainly doesn’t reinvent the wheel of contemporary R&B, but he’s still a breath of fresh air in today’s ring of sweaty urban machos. Listeners, even critics, have often suspected that Miguel’s been riding on Trey Songz’ coattails, but he proves he’s in a much different lane, as he practices on an eclectic playlist that chronicles ‘80s’ pop, hip-hop, Prince-esque funk and classic rock—all evidenced on his debut All I Want Is You.
His second disc, Kaleidoscope Dream, is a much different album than its predecessor. Musically, it breeds on a palette of sparse instrumentation and “dreamy” lava lamp escapades. When he decides to crank up the volume, Hendrix-buzzed electric guitars clutter the front (“Use Me,” The Thrill,” “Arch and Point”), so does the bad-ass bass (“Kaleidoscope Dream,” “How Many Drinks”). He also builds up a repetitive chorus around a retro sampling of the Zombies’ “Time of the Season.” Lyrically, he takes on a R&B freak fantasy like a wise carnivore hungry for a kill. On “Do You…,” he starts off as a gentleman, working up the prelude to a midnight rendezvous. “Do you like love? Me to, me to,” he sings. By the end of the song, he throws out a sexy one-liner that feels like most dark humor: “I’m gonna do you like drugs tonight.” As the album paces onward, the pick-up lines pile on the sensual, like on the Salaam Remi produced “How Many Drinks” where his striking falsetto tells his sexual prey that “temptation is calling your name.” Blame it on the alcohol if you’d like, Miguel’s package of bedroom magic isn’t goofed up by intoxication. He knows exactly what he’s doing when he raps about sex positions (“Arch & Point”) and downtown takeovers (“Pussy Is Mine”).
All the while, the music feels more mature than Trey Songz, despite Miguel’s investment in wicked sex fantasies. Some will be turned off by all the sexual aggression and some will likely raise a brow over the slight departure from the first disc. There are no apparent torchers on Kaleidoscope Dream, but he’s got an ear for crafting an entertaining set of songs. A primary example of that can be heard on the album’s opener. “Adorn” masks itself with the beats and vibes akin back to the Isley Brothers’ bedroom appetizers, but waltzes more like an impromptu Marvin Gaye performance. It doesn’t have the sing-a-long factor of “Sexual Healing,” but don’t be too surprised if urban radio picks up on it; it’s the album’s crowning moment. Recommended.
By J Matthew Cobb