Music: Miguel’s ‘Kaleidoscope Dream’

R&B HAS BEEN stagnating over the past few years, especially when it comes to male R&B singers such as Usher, R. Kelly, Chris Brown and Ne-Yo. Their quality and their relevance in the current music culture has become questionable at best.

Recently, however, there has been a gradual revitalisation of male R&B which, shockingly for such a ‘mainstream’ genre, has come from independent places. The Weeknd, Frank Ocean and especially Miguel have delivered unique and brilliant R&B albums the likes of which haven’t been seen for years.

Miguel’s sophomore album is very different from his contemporaries; its subject matter is far more mainstream. Miguel preoccupies himself with relationships with various women throughout the album with bare-faced honesty – subverting the various tropes of contemporary R&B entirely, specifically the typical “baby-maker” songs that have been popular in the past. Take for instance Use Me where he sings about having sex with a woman with the lights on because it “turns him on”. However, some of the lyrics can be pedestrian and, at worst, pseudo-philosophical (“f**king everybody’s selfish”) lacking the bite that you get with nihilistic The Weekend.

Any lyrical shortcomings are more than made up for by the high quality production. Miguel self-produces many of the best songs (The opener ‘dorn, for example) and brings in some unique talent than is usually expected on an R&B album. There are no famous producers like The Neptunes but the production is sonically varied, ranging from a psychedelic wall of sound to just Miguel on a guitar.

Finally, a review of this album wouldn’t be complete without mentioning Miguel’s fantastic voice. I will controversially declare that Miguel has a better voice than any of his contemporaries. His falsetto is immaculate and his voice is very emotive.

This album is absolutely brilliant and one of my favourites of the year – perhaps even of the decade so far.