REVIEW: Miguel – ‘Wildheart’

miguel wildheart

Artist: Miguel
Album: Wildheart
Label: RCA
Genre: R&B, Soul

Kaleidoscope Dream from 2012 set the bar very, very high for Wildheart. Grammy-award winner Miguel was on the verge of continuing to champion for the R&B/neo soul sub-industry alongside the likes of D’Angelo and Erykah Badu. In this new record, Los Angeles was his chosen cynosure and commercial-sounding R&B was not an endgame. He divulges his inner eccentric–more so here than in All I Want Is You from 2010–and steers clear of the generic. For those acclimated to the complex retro workings of the late ‘70s and ‘80s, Wildheart may come close to precious metal. For others who may find it difficult to unwrap the intricate workings of Miguel’s imagination, it might just be a little too much to swallow.

“I need this album to connect,” Miguel shares in an interview with MTV. The record’s first spin allowed a touch to the surface; a very rough, unpalatable dap. The second spin allowed for a bit of research, and the third allowed for some understanding and the desire to dig a little deeper. All the other encounters that follow emerge as pure wanderlust – a good kind of connection.

Hazy guitars (which, notably, also can be found throughout the entire record), heavy synthesizers, and audio clips of television news greet us in “A Beautiful Exit,” an irony in most regards since it was neither beautiful nor was it the exit. “Deal” follows the same dull path, except this time there’s “No one pays attention now, they just wanna dance. You could be holdin’ the future in the palm of your hands” to contrast the six-word chorus. This sequence forces a careless assumption to be made about the rest of the collection. A lot of them, however, disavow and prove worthy.

We see an abrupt resurgence of Miguel’s music’s notorious baby-making aesthetic in “The Valley.” It’s difficult to ignore a chorus that begins with a hard “I wanna fuck like we’re filming in the valley. I wanna push and shove and paint your hills and valley.”

“Coffee,” along with “NWA” (feat. Kurupt) and the rock and roll lovechild that is “Hollywood Dreams,” was released in December of last year as a placeholder under Wild while Miguel was in the process of completing the record. These three stellar tracks stand out. They command attention individually and seek the spotlight when placed against the other ten tracks in this record.

“Waves,” though with its funky Earth, Wind & Fire trill, falls a little short and rapidly grows forgettable. Similarly, “Leaves” and “Goingtohell” seek out the same pull: an elaborate debate between the commercial and the independent – a seemingly reoccurring theme throughout.

Although imaginably not for everybody, Miguel emphasizes nice, heavy imprints of rock and roll, especially in “Face The Sun,” which features Lenny Kravitz (Seriously. We’re talking “Bohemian Rhapsody”-level guitar solo here). Amidst the heavy lot of genres, though, in this record lie lyrics like “Too immoral for the Christians, but too moral for the cut-throat. Too far out for the in-crowd, what’s normal anyway? Too concerned about what others think. What’s normal anyway?” This helps to explain Wildheart‘s intricacies.

While other artists hail victorious (to a fault) in the “too cohesive” department, Miguel does the opposite with Wildheart. A deliberate distancing from radio R&B/hip-hop and a newly acquired inclination towards the rock and roll byproduct of soul and blues, Wildheart feels like an equally uplifting and anticlimactic hybrid of both the gentrification of Brooklyn and the revival of old L.A.

SCORE: 7/10
Review written by Dana Reandelar

Dana Reandelar

If not hunched over her desk writing about music, Dana can be found binge-watching old episodes of Gilmore Girls or condensing long rants to 140 characters. She also writes for Idobi Radio, and is an Off The Record podcast contributor.
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