From an outsider’s point of view, the stars of the pop-rap/R&B world have no reason to be so morose. Yet, here we are, with the beautiful melancholy of Frank Ocean, the sadsackery of The Weeknd and, well, everything about Drake dominating the sound. Yes, there are Gatsby-style parties, a cornucopia of free drugs and amounts of sex that would make Caligula balk, but, in the minds of these sadboys, it’s all so boring. Not so for Miguel. He relishes it all, diving headfirst into the world of excess available to him. Wildheart is all heated nights, dangerous joyrides and sex—lots of sex—but, unfortunately, the excess he indulges in carries over to his music, making the record a grab bag of brilliant sex jams and half-baked Top 40 aimers.

Wildheart is split into two halves lyrically, musically and excellence-wise. The higher tier is made of Miguel’s overstated, triumphant odes to carnal pleasures, fleshed out with undulating electronics, sweating synths and booming drums. In this category squarely lands lead single “Coffee,” the Kurupt-featuring “NWA,” “FLESH” and album highlight “the valley.” Miguel’s voice, not so coincidentally, is also at its best on these tracks, flipping between his natural earthy coo and a Prince-like falsetto. The hazy, oozing atmosphere of “FLESH” has his best vocal performance, with his airy come-ons floating above whirring keyboards and minimalistic drums, evoking the far-off pleasure palace of “Darling Nikki.” “Coffee” also falls to the sweeter side of Miguel’s vices, opening with the beautiful sentiment, “I wish I could paint our love/ These moments in vibrant hues,” just before he describes a long night of lust morphing into a romantic morning-after, absolutely refusing any hint of a one-night stand.

“NWA” and “the valley” have Miguel working in more mindless ecstasy, with the clanking percussion of “NWA,” coupled with a staccato vocal pattern, recalling some of Justin Timberlake’s mid-2000s work. “the valley” works like the bastard love child of Nine Inch Nails’ “Closer” and The Weeknd’s “Glass Table Girls,” creating an intoxicating and pounding toast to sin. Miguel has the sex-guru charisma to pull of “Confess your sins to me/ While you masturbate,” and things get even less subtle as the drum machine crawls along. “I want to fuck like we’re filming in the valley,” he cries. It’s NSFW on an extreme level, liable to make your headphones break out in sweat but, just like “Closer,” it’s undeniably catchy and repeatable. If the pregnancy rate rises in the U.S. over the next few months, blame “the valley.”

Unfortunately, Wildheart does eventually have to drop the other shoe. So much pop filler comes between the hits that the fast forward button will get a workout. There’s a certain schadenfreude level of enjoyment to be had from “what’s normal anyway,” with sex god Miguel singing “I feel alone.” But the repetitive nature of Miguel’s heart-on-sleeve sentiments gets tiresome quickly. There are also moments on Wildheart that sound poorly produced. “Hollywood Dreams,” despite its delusions of grandeur, feels utterly flat thanks to thudding drums and snore-worthy guitars. By the same token,“face the sun” doesn’t have much to offer outside of the fact that Lenny Kravitz’s feature isn’t totally obnoxious, and, simply put, songs like “Simple Things” and “destinado a morir” feel like half-sketched songs still in their infancy.

A good portion of Wildheart will probably land directly on your make-out playlist, and with “the valley” Miguel has a strong contender for song of the year. But disposable fluff kills any momentum his hedonistic tales could muster. Unless Frank Ocean comes out with an absolute dud later this year, it looks like Miguel’s claims of being the best around are unfounded.

  • Miguel: War & Leisure

    War & Leisure is a little like having stoned sex while CNN is blaring. …
  • Miguel: Kaleidoscope Dream

    [xrr rating=3.0/5]R&B is in the middle of an internet renaissance. Singers and perform…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Check Also

Telefon Tel Aviv: Dreams Are Not Enough

Telefon Tel Aviv’s brutish, dark and lonely return. …