Miguel – Wildheart
by Jonathan Vayness (Psychology), published July 15th 2015
Moldy | Stale | Edible | Fresh | Tasty!
A quick glance at the cover art of Miguel’s Wildheart is all it takes to get a good idea of what’s to come on the album. It’s cosmic, colorful and Miguel’s shirtless figure towering over a bowed, naked woman is a less-than-subtle way of telling us that there will be no lack of sexuality. While in some ways this image is the perfect flyer for Miguel’s music, it doesn’t do justice to the broader lyrical themes and musical influences present on the record. Those extras make Wildheart more than just another R&B album to make babies to.
On the first track, “a beautiful exit,” Miguel shows us his ability as a producer, songwriter and lyricist. Set against distorted guitar, harmonies and the first of many catchy melodies on the album, Miguel sings about the pettiness of it all. “We’re gonna die young/ All our problems were so extra small to astronauts.” Miguel does not open with a track about laying someone down by the fire. Instead, he starts in a more thoughtful way. By saying “We are all going to die anyway,” he justifies his desire to be reckless and sing about sex.
And that he does. Most of the songs on the album are about sex in one form or another. Some songs take more carnal approaches. “I wanna fuck like we’re filming in the valley/ I wanna push and shove and paint your hills and valley,” he sings on “the valley.” Other songs, like the single “Coffee,” take a subtler approach, using the idea of making coffee the morning after to imply what happened the previous night. When it comes to sex, it’s clear that Miguel is not lacking in egotistical swagger. This is seen even on the album cover, with Miguel showing himself in a dominating position over a woman, whose face is not seen, submitting to him in all his shirtless glory. Lyrics like those on the track “NWA,” where he talks about women walking with a “gangster lean” as a result of being with him, back this up too. Miguel’s arrogance is not contained to the album, as he recently was quoted saying that he makes “better music” than Frank Ocean.
With this in mind, it could be easy to look down at Miguel as an arrogant chauvinist if it weren’t for the fact that his songs are so brilliantly written and produced, and that a few tracks show us a more relatable Miguel. On the song “what’s normal anyway,” Miguel talks about not being able to fit in with any group of people. “Too immoral for the Christians, but too moral for the cut-throat…I never feel like I belong.” Any listener can relate to that struggle, even if Miguel is full of himself.
There are influences from everywhere on this album. You can hear a little Parliament-Funkadelic on the track “DEAL,” Frank Ocean on “FLESH” and even some classic rock guitar influences on songs like “leaves” and “waves.” What makes this album special is Miguel’s ability to combine all these influences and, with his powerful voice and production, make them his own, resulting in a truly great R&B album.
Recommended tracks: “FLESH,” “the valley,” “leaves”