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In Rotation: Miguel's searing 'Kaleidoscope Dream'

November 18, 2012|By Randall Roberts
  • Recording artist Miguel in Hollywood.
Recording artist Miguel in Hollywood. (Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles…)

Miguel

"Kaleidoscope Dream"

(RCA)

Sounding both fresh and classic, R&B singer-guitarist Miguel's searing "Kaleidoscope Dream" offers further evidence of a genre being reborn in 2012. Along with artists such as Frank Ocean and the Weeknd pushing for an open-door policy when it comes to influence, sound and lyrical themes, the San Pedro-born Miguel's second album is as thick and varied as they come.

"Don't Look Back," for example, features as its rhythm a sample from the Zombies classic "Time of the Season" that near the end devolves into a slow drawl of analog synthesizer and warbles like it's being chopped and screwed. The stutter-step thump of the title track suggests a lost Marvin Gaye song updated with modern technology. Miguel layers his voice infinitely, harmonizing quietly, conveying true emotion devoid of AutoTune sheen.

"Where's the Fun in Forever?" is an ode to youth and freedom featuring a tom-tom and high-hat beat and a thick bass riff. As on much of "Kaleidoscope Dream," the song's biggest asset is its unpredictability. It rolls along dynamically like the looking glass of the title, each musical measure advancing the argument, a shimmering sonic hallucination as surprising as it is magical.

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