Dec 04, 2012 Web Exclusive
It's hard to fault a young artist for putting out a record that sounds like vintage Prince; it's been too long since Prince himself released one that did just that. The often-hypersexual subject matter here is no doubt one of the contributing factors earning this 26-year-old soul singer comparisons to that R&B statesman. (Really, how many other artists could croon out a track titled "Pussy is Mine" with a straight face?) Miguel rarely wastes time with lyrical—ahem—pussyfooting when being direct or explicit is an option. "If you're nervous, let me show you how to touch me/I can teach you," he sings in one of the more tender moments of "Use Me;" moments later, after the foreplay's through, he lets out a cry of "defile me" in an airy falsetto. (In between, there's a lot less left to the imagination.) There's an upfront quality to his words that tiptoes the line between sexy and silly, raunchy and ridiculous; if it weren't for a sense that each line is uttered with utmost honesty, he'd be hard to take seriously. But he is being serious here, which makes the songwriting on Kaleidoscope Dream so refreshing when taken for face value. It's a delicate balance that Miguel hits right on the head.
Hard R-rated lyricism aside, the freewheeling and unusual production on the record warrants the Prince comparisons even more. Minimalist enough to let the singer's silky voice take center stage yet threaded with enough instrumentation to give each track an individual flavor. From the aqueous synths of "Adorn," the "Darling Nikki"-esque shuffling guitars in "The Thrill," to psychedelic flourishes in the Zombies-referencing "Don't Look Back," it's a record that's every bit as multifaceted as its kaleidoscopic cover art, and one sure to grow over multiple listenings. (www.officialmiguel.com)
Author rating: 7.5/10
Average reader rating: 9/10