Speaking at the premiere of animated movie “Coco,” Miguel – who recorded a track for the soundtrack – spills the beans about his next album. (Nov. 10)
On his fourth and latest album, Miguel comes into his own.
Ever since his commercial breakout with second effort Kaleidoscope Dream, the silky-voiced 32-year-old crooner has drawn comparisons to Marvin Gaye, Babyface and Prince — artists he repeatedly has expressed admiration for, while also trying to carve out his own sound,distinct from his R&B forefathers.
“Being a reminder of Prince is a huge compliment,” he recently told the U.K.’s The Sun. “It’s a bit of both being flattered, but like, ‘Hey, there’s more.’ Hopefully that’s enough to get you to listen more and go, ‘OK, I see where he’s different.’ “
War & Leisure (*** out of four), out Friday, goes a long way in staking Miguel’s claim as a singular artist, delivering more of the soulful, sultry jams that made Adorn and How Many Drinks? early hits, while also wading further into the Jimi Hendrix-inspired psychedelia that pervaded 2015’s Wildheart.
Album opener Criminal is an intoxicating wash of slippery funk guitars and punchy drums, while reverb-heavy stoner anthems Told You So and Harem coat thick bass lines with fuzzy electronics. Lyrically, he lets loose on the knowingly goofy Sky Walker, throwing out references to Star Wars and Top Gun, and coyly reminding potential bedmates that he smiles “like a saint with a sinner’s mind.”
While these encapsulate the “leisure” part of the album’s title, “war” also bleeds into the music, with political commentary sprinkled throughout its 12 tracks. The disarmingly breezy Banana Clip offsets its amorous lyrics with references to “missiles in the sky” and “terror on my mind,” giving the song a tinge of gloom in light of recent news about North Korea. Stopping in for Come Through and Chill, guest rapper J. Cole applauds Colin Kaepernick’s national anthem protest, while denouncing police brutality and political ignorance. (“Trump saying slick (expletive) / manipulating poor white folks ‘cuz they ignunt.”)
Miguel closes out War & Leisure with the most overtly political track, a woozy guitar ballad called Now. He explained to Billboard that it’s his imagined conversation with Trump about hurricane victims, Dreamers and immigrants — minority groups he’s passionate about, having protested…