Miguelâ€™s sophomore LP examines the dichotomies inherent in relationships, whether as brief as one night, or ones that last a lifetime. The eleven tracks play like a classic tug of war of the heart: the thin lines between love and hate, between faith and infidelity, and the intimate and the epic are all considered. What sets this apart from contemporary RnB records is the immaculate production, and Miguelâ€™s charisma as a frontman.
The record opens with â€śAdorn,â€ť a fantastic slow jam in the vein of Marvin Gaye â€śLetâ€™s Get it On.â€ť As an ode to the joys of love it works like gangbusters. Itâ€™s hard to imagine anyone listening to this without a huge smile on their face. Immediately following is â€śDonâ€™t Look Back,â€ť which acts as the darker, more sinister yin to its predecessorâ€™s smooth-talking yang. After the intimacy of â€śAdorn,â€ť the listener is treated to an epic take on the risks of infidelity when temptation arises. â€śI feel the night approaching/The moon is calling me…,â€ť Miguel croons over a muffled soul beat, â€śAnd if I donâ€™t make it back before the sun/All you have to do is run/Just promise me youâ€™ll run/And donâ€™t look back,â€ť he sings on the chorus. While it runs the risk of bombastic melodrama, Miguel manages to sincerely convey his concerns over his faith to his unnamed lover. And like all relationships we can run into those snags where weâ€™re unsure whether itâ€™s worth it to stay with someone, or to pursue the single life. The back half of the track is augmented by the singerâ€™s take on the chorus to â€śTime of the Season.â€ť Itâ€™s an odd choice in theory, but in execution the song is taken to a new level.
Throughout the album we feel the push and pull of this duality, and thankfully Miguel crafted Kaleidoscope Dream with this theme coursing through the songs, which makes for a cohesive listen from beginning to end. Whatâ€™s fascinating about the record is how the music easily moves between genres, from pop arrangements (â€śDo You…â€ť), to soul ballads (the slow-burning closer â€śCandles in the Sunâ€ť), and, most surprisingly, to Miguel merely strumming an electric guitar (the brief â€śPussy is Mineâ€ť). The preference of live instruments gives every track an extra intensity that complements Miguelâ€™s fantastic voice.
Lately, a fair amount of hip-hop and RnB artists have crafted album-oriented works, from Kanye West, Beyonce, Drake, and Frank Ocean. With Kaleidoscope Dream Miguel joins this echelon, bringing his unique musical persona to the group. While not as bombastic as Kanye, or as relentlessly downtrodden as Drake, Miguel holds his own throughout the album. Itâ€™s a work that showcases not just his musical talents, but also his ability to write lyrics that appeal to the masses, from the singles looking for something more, to those with someone who canâ€™t help but wonder what itâ€™s like on the other side. As we head into the chilly weather of fall, Kaleidoscope Dream should serve as a frequent companion, offering more to love after each listen.