Dear Miguel, I apologize. Because I slept.
You had a bunch of hits from your last album and I ignored them. You appeared as the hook dude on a couple of okay rap songs and I ignored them. You were being touted as the future of R&B, and I ignored it.
Then I heard “Adorn,” and I fell in love.
The spare electro-ballad hit #1 on the R&B charts a month or so ago, and it goosed Miguel’s sophomore effort, Kaleidoscope Dream, to a #3 debut on the national charts. Not an easy task these days for a dude who performs (more or less) straight ahead R&B music. Well, OK. Kaleidoscope Dream isn’t really straight ahead R&B music, but it’s certainly not the same strain as the Chris Browns and Ushers of the world. Miguel is quite fond of sex…like Prince. The man likes his guitars but can still croon with the best of them…like Prince. He even rocks a pompadour like Prince does. And while Kaleidoscope certainly isn’t the equal of…well, any Prince album released between 1980 and 1987, it stands out enough to draw loose comparisons.
“Adorn” is the best song on the album, and although the fact that the lead track and first single is the high point of an album might scare some, the remainder of Kaleidoscope Dream is only a slight comedown. The singer emerges as a fully fleshed out talent, able to croon Marvin Gaye-style (or at least Robin Thicke-style) on the enchanting “What’s The Fun In Forever”) as well as stir some rock and roll attitude into his music. “Arch & Point” and “The Thrill” have some lip-snarling low-slung guitar moves that wouldn’t totally be out of place on college radio. These songs offer a slightly more commercial spin on the sound Van Hunt’s been serving us for his last several albums.
Miguel and Hunt definitely have something else in common-they’re both horndogs. Although when Hunt decided he was gonna take it all the way there, he did (listen to “The Lowest 1 of My Desires” from his Popular album if you want to find out more.) Miguel titles a song “Pussy Is Mine,” but kinda passes it off as a joke. Dude, just throw your cards on the table and let your freak flag fly. Folks will respect you more. Not to say he spends the whole album being coy. “How Many Drinks” (does it take to…) and “Do You” (he wants to do you like drugs) spell things out pretty readily.
Kaleidoscope Dream is definitely a breath of fresh air. It’s (relatively) sample free, although the title track bounces on the same Labi Siffre sample that Eminem used on “My Name Is,” there are no guest rappers, and it borrows freely from other genres without sounding like it’s trying too hard. I got the message, Miguel. I won’t be sleeping on you again.