Two years ago, Miguel Jontel Pimentel was an edgy, curious-looking soul of mystery. He sang that same soul out on his debut album, All I Want Is You, winning over women and men (no easy feat) alike with hits like the title track (which featured then-rookie rapper J. Cole), “Sure Thing,” and “Quickie.” Two years later, the pompadour-wearing, ethnically-ambiguous artist of African American and Mexican American descent has established himself as a formidable singer/songwriter/producer, not unlike his mentors Prince and Pharrell. With his new album Kaleidoscope Dream, Miguel has expounded on his Art Dealer Chic EP set, bringing something of an evolved, artsy sound to pop/R&B airwaves.
“Adorn” brings listeners to a bass-heavy, sensuous experience; crooning softly and boldly, “Just let my love, let me love adorn you” – slowly building confidence in his plea to tell his lover just how much he wants to embrace her, from a small whisper to echoing shouts; that’s but just a taste of the sounds.
Unlike Miguel’s first album, Kaleidoscope Dream delves in synth-heavy rock as a major sonic theme, thoroughly distinguished in songs such as “Don’t Look Back,” “Use Me,” “The Thrill,” and another ADC carryover, “Arch & Point”, an electric guitar-charged exclamation, prodding his muse to take a certain position amidst the throws of copulation.
Acoustic influence has also impacted Miguel in a significant way, as “Do You…” finds Miguel asking, “Do you still believe in love? Do you like drugs…do you like hugs?” over a rhythmic snare with strings plucking through the melody. “P**** Is Mine” is literally a raw demonstration of that same influence, as he tells his love to “tell me that the p**** is mine,” fighting the thought of others having their way with the same woman.
Of course, what made Miguel the star that he is today is that he has made R&B exciting in a way that many longtime music listeners lament have vanished from the current landscape. “How Many Drinks” shows Miguel taking an inquisitive pose on moving through the game of buying out the bar, trying to bed his interest ASAP. “Where’s The Fun In Forever” makes use of the talents of Alicia Keys, employing a classic hip-hop sound that Miguel uses to express his feelings of celebration, with the two “toast(-ing) to the moment” of the day.
In all, Kaleidoscope Dream is an enjoyable album, and more of a look at the musical amalgam that Miguel has become. It could be stronger and more focused, as the title track, the aforementioned “P****…” and the live version of “Candles In The Sun” weaken the impact of the album. However, the listen is much like the title suggests – an entire display and range of sounds that are colorfully articulated in a way that Miguel uniquely expresses.