Miguel seems to be doing just fine, if not better, following his departure from Jive Records. Now signed to RCA Records, his second studio album exhibits a sense of sophistication missing on his debut record, All I Want Is You. Miguel successfully breaks away from the usual fare in R&B with his new album Kaleidoscope Dream. Each track on the album holds unique attributes that make for a stimulating listen. Compared to his first major work, his second studio album displayed complexity through the integration of new sound components and profound lyricism. This can only be a precedent for what’s more to come from the extraordinary L.A. artist.
All I Want Is You held the more conventional R&B sound, with Miguel’s voice dancing over rhythmic, steady beats. Kaleidoscope Dream designs an extension of R&B, adding a funk twist to the genre while Miguel sings over far more extensive beats with rock and pop elements incorporated.
The record holds a very familiar sound and in this case that’s a good thing. Reminiscent of Prince’s sixth studio album, Purple Rain, Miguel uses his falsetto masterfully. With his own panache, he mirrors Prince’s distinct vocal style. Furthermore, Miguel employs a little of Prince’s electronic and synthesized sound style as he crafts a truly unique mix of R&B, rock, and pop.
“Don’t Look Back” exhibits the fruitful blend of these three genres. The track opens up with fierce percussion over airy synthesizers, something that would remind you of the production on Frank Ocean’s “Pyramids”. After the first verse, the beat switches from electro-inspired and brings in the thundering bass, steady percussion and subtle piano to back the melody of Miguel’s voice. The changes in one track are impressive and attractive. The tail end of the track offers a somber, funk-industrial instrumental while Miguel’s voice is heard synthesized and discreet.
In Kaleidoscope Dream, Miguel’s voice flows more fervently across each track, carrying notes, as opposed to the flipping between singing and a more spoken voice heard on his debut album.
“Adorn”, the first track on the album, shows his impeccable vocal variations coupled with his lyrical desire. Beneath his sweet crooning, you’ll hear an undertone of Miguel’s voice contributing to the instrumental. About midway through the track, he bursts into a falsetto, truly encasing his vocal ability all on one recording, and making you feel his passion.
It’s apparent the artist was thoughtful when it came to words on the recording. His use of descriptive language and metaphor is frequent, pleasant and tasteful. Although Miguel is an established composer, as he’s written for Musiq Soulchild and Usher in the past, this work showcases his lyrical development.
“Use Me” renders his poetic growth. He opens up the first verse with “Sedate me/ Salacious, salty and sweet/ I’m overwhelmed by tasty thoughts of you.” The ethereal beat juxtaposed with the ardent, meaningful lyrics makes for easily one of the best tracks on the album. Towards the end of the ballad, he sings the chorus in a round, a harmonic chant that captures the listener.
The major difference in sound and composition between his first and second albums reveals how Miguel has significantly grown as an artist in just two years With Kaleidoscope Dream, Miguel returns to topics merely mentioned on the former and submerses his entire creative mind into them, crafting an eloquent, emotional masterpiece.