Tuesday 30 October 2012

RFT Album Reviews: Miguel - Kaleidoscope Dream

Lyrics: 3.9/5.0 - Production: 4.0/5.0 - Overall Score: 4.0/5.0

Review by Reesh - Follow me on Twitter! I won't bite! Well, maybe a little @MrReesh

Cover art inspiration?
There will be thousands of them. Who? I’ll tell you who: children conceived to Kaleidoscope Dream, Miguel Pimentel’s sharp and sexy sophomore album, that’s who.

This time around Miguel isn’t playing any games; he’s matured his content, settled on a single distinct “Neo-RnB” sound that resonates through the whole album, and even got a new hairstyle to waft at fans. While the cover may look vaguely like what happens when your computer freezes and you move a window around, what lies beneath is an album which is rich in quality, unique in sound and definitely worth purchasing.

Kicking off with Adorn, Miguel’s silken voice manages to set a seductively steamy tone which he manages to maintain throughout the entire LP, despite varying subjects and instrumentals. His vocal mastery is becoming readily apparent; he appears to shift effortlessly between notes all the while retaining a clean, jazzy, James Brown-esque voice in every track. Now this brings me to a major point – Miguel is different. Sure he falls into the lately emerging paradigm of “Neo-RnB”, however he manages to carve his own little niche here, as he mixes a flawless falsetto with cashmere vocals and edgy production to produce an album that sounds rugged, imaginative, and soulful.

Though the entire album is worth a listen, to me particular songs show off particular high points. The Happy Perez (producer of Sure Thing) & Miguel produced Don’t Look Back features a powerful distorted drumline and enigmatic composition that fits perfectly with the forboding lyrics and give it a tone which feels almost criminal. Meanwhile in the far lighter How Many Drinks? Miguel’s falsetto seamlessly fuses with Salaam Remi’s shiny rhodes-induced instrumental in such a beautiful way I could swear I saw Bambi do a dougie on a rainbow as I listened to it. He also does a sly rap here - nothing too fancy, but he manages to do it without causing the slightest cringe. Additionally in Gravity Miguel utilises a more classically RnB sound with just a hint of 80s to produce an infectious head-bopper, which feels more fun against his backdrop of serious songs.

The Codfather fears no man
Lyrics-wise Mr Pimentel is also on point. He manages to add an inspiring degree of coolness to some more obvious lines “I’m gonna do you like drugs tonight” and while some topics may be a bit - how can I say this lightly - sextastic, he manages to keep it listenable by even some more sensitive ears though a mental “lololol did he just say that” may just come through. There are of course some very obvious puns made “When I’m there you treat a n*gga real good, and that’s probably why I always come”, but nothing so bad that it moves from the serious atmosphere of the album and into the realms of comedic failure – however in All he does say something that sounds a lot like “Tell me that you sell fish? BUT DO YOU SELL FISH?” which makes me think he has a mind to take on the Codfather himself, £1 fish guy from Upton Park.

Most descriptive picture I could find

But of course it’s not all sunshine and butterflies, as some tracks do appear to drift off into some strange dimension of needless experimentation. For example the ending of Don’t Look Back culminates in a slow and bizarre alien bass-line instrumental which ends up mimicking The Zombies’ Time of The Season for some reason.  Moreover while the titular song Kaleidoscope Dream attempts to cross realms with its inherently dreamy sound and high pitch vocals, it doesn’t quite gather the power or strength to make it there and sort of sits in a sonically awkward position like a fat man on a particularly narrow bus seat. However as the rest of the content is so well put together, these points provide mere fast forward points to exercise your fingers as you move on to the next track.

Overall while Kaleidoscope Dream may not be heralded by the planet as one of the greatest RnB albums of all time, it is one of the greatest RnB albums of 2012, which especially in today’s climate of 4x4 tempo insanity makes it an essential listen for anyone who loves real RnB, or real music in general. The album is exciting, yet relaxing, and it is in this oxymoronic realm that Miguel manages to craft something truly wonderful even if it does have some minor flaws.

My Top 3:
1. Do You...

2. Adorn

3. Don't Look Back

And if you haven't seen it already,
One Pound Fish (from 0:30):

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