August 10, 2015

Something like Less Than Zero crossed with Dirty Mind, Miguel’s latest album, Wildheart, is a murky exploration of decadence, ambition, alienation, and sex, quite a lot of sex, as performed in the singer and auteur’s native Los Angeles. As on 2012’s Kaleidoscope Dream, we’re offered a tasting menu of romantic and sexual stances: devoted, paternalistic, coy, dominant, though this time more space is given to rougher role-play. “NWA,” with a spongy bass drum out of Mr. Collipark and a persona out of R. Kelly, promises, you might say threatens, sex hard enough to at least temporarily alter the partner’s gait. The whole thing would be wonderfully sexy, if I didn’t speak English. Elsewhere Miguel is more likable and vulnerable, but the mood, in the great L.A. tradition, is always mixed. The album’s signature moment might be the glammy guitar riff that drives the washout anthem “Hollywood Dreams”: the notes descend with the dream, and somehow this defeat is uplifting.

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