Unearthed: Miguel— Kaleidoscope Dream
Posted in Unearthed
Touché, Asshole (Sort Of)
I don't know where my personal beef with Miguel stems from. Maybe it's because the first time I heard him sing, he accounted for the one thing that bothered me about one of the greatest LP-debuts of the 21st century ("First Things First" on Blu's Below the Heavens). Maybe it's because his first album cover made him look like Nicolas Sarkozy's personal sex-slave. Maybe it's because the next time I heard from him (this year's Art Dealer Chic trilogy), I was appalled by the blatant The Weeknd swagger-jacking that dude seems to have made his new "thing" now. Maybe it's because he put on the most superfluous Moma PS1 performance in history, completely killing the vibe between sets of Pearson Sound and Jamie xx. It may also very well be his goddamn haircut.
Whatever it is, I hate that sleezeball. And I also hate that everyone makes such a big fucking deal about someone who is clearly --as Tyler Durden would put it --not much more than a copy of a copy of a copy. Miguel waters down The Weeknd's cokesex-lyricism, Prince's 80's strip-club-aesthetics and Frank Ocean's congenial sensitivity into something that seems to appeal to the most bourgeois portion of RnB listeners. Not too raunchy, not too musically daring. Picket-fence and hair gel music. Did this guy get a Cosmopolitan cover yet? Cause that's where he belongs, in my humble opinion at least.
So let's use "Do You" as the point in case why I hate Miguel and why I can't get jiggy with this shit. The cheapest lyrics imaginable over the dumbest fucking tropical guitar riff possible, a cornball bassline probably played by someone whose hair is long, curly and greasy, and synths that were old in 1989. Someone get that man a ghostwriter already! If these lyrics don't make you cringe, you might wanna consider re-taking English I at your local high school. Feel free to apply the same arguments in slight variation to songs like "Use Me," "Kaleidoscope Dream," "How Many Drinks" and "Arch & Point." "Ballerina smart but your sex like art." "Sedate me --salacious, salty and sweet / I'm overwhelmed by tasty thoughts of you." Really, bruh? Timidly distorted guitars and compressed drums don't miraculously turn your shit into Purple Rain neither. Besides, the revival of the 80s production sound-kit died in Williamsburg in 2010.
Then again, there are some upsides here. "Adorn" works --wobble-bass, "Sexual Healing"-referencing, off-kilter clicking and clunking, gospel "oohs" and all. There's a Zombies reference at the end of "Don't Look Back," which I can dig. "Where's the Fun In Forever" introduces some rough edges to the usually uberslick surface, and getting an Alicia Keys-feature with basically just some ad-libs and some piano-playing is also quite a pimp-move actually. "The Thrill" alternates between refreshingly sparse and rhythmic, and a plush hook, sounding so epically cheesy that it almost makes me want to sing along (ironically, of course). And then there's the stroke of genius that is "Pussy Is Mine," which with its gimmicky mode of recording serves as yet another reason to hate Miguel, but at the same time shows dude's undeniable singing qualities and believably pulls off some subversively fragile pseudo-machismo.
In the end, I will admit that Miguel does pull off his steez. If you're into watching The Notebook on your faux-leather couch with your special someone while sharing a bottle of cheap chianti from the corner store, then please listen to your Miguel. This shit isn't for me, but then again I'm not in his demographic of 30-somethings with boring sex lives. Kaleidoscope Dream gets a 5 greasy rose petals out of 10 rating from me.
Kaleidoscope Dream is out now via RCA Records and can be purchased here.